‘Zombie Prom’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by September 8, 2015

‘Zombie Prom’ is the latest presentation in the Dark Psychic Production’s sell-out series of ‘Zombie’ plays and musicals. The book and lyrics are by John Dempsey, with the music by Dana P. Rowe. The Off-Broadway musical was first produced in 1993, but did not reach London until 2009.

Presented by Phoenix Theatre Inc. and Dark Psychic Productions at the Phoenix Theatre, within the Memorial Hall, 435 Carrington Street, Hamilton Hill; this lively two-hour musical, with almost two dozen number, starts at 8.00 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings until 26th September. There is a matinee on Sunday 20th September at 2.00 pm.

All funds raised from the programme and raffle sales each night will be donated to Motor Neurone Disease Association of WA and the Perth Zombie Walk.

 

     It is Prom night in the 1950s at the Enrico Fermi High. The class heartthrob, Jonny (Oliver Kaiser) is a bit of a rogue. He was called Johnny, until the ‘H’ dropped off the back of his leather jacket. He falls for Toffee (Kathryn McCarthy) and gives her his treasured jacket as a love token. The miserable Principal, Miss Strict (Bethsaida Tapsall), who seems to have a big chip on her shoulder, supervises the Prom. The Prom ends and the janitor (Pat McMahon) cleans up the mess.

     Toffee’s mother (Emma Muller) and father (Daniel Rooney) know of Jonny’s reputation and so ban their meeting again. Furious, Jonny rides off to the local nuclear power plant and commits suicide by throwing himself into the nuclear dump. Months later, Jonny returns as a green, glowing Zombie, repulsing all who knew him.

     The local press are looking for a story and find Jonny. TV reporter Eddie Flagrante (Glenn Scott) does an exposé. On hearing this, Miss Strict threatens Toffee that she must never bring Jonny to a school celebration again. However, Toffee’s friends, Candy (Megan Kerr), Ginger (Jayde Clark) and Coco (Gabrielle Guidone) try to console her. The schoolboys in the group, Jake (Karl Smith), Joey (John Gray) and Josh (Luke Williams) are of course pleased to see Toffee back on the ‘available’ list.

     The TV station has the ‘phones running hot, with the secretaries (Ruby Reye, Maggie Meyer) working overtime. Singer, Ramona Merengue (Sara Urban) is finishing her TV show, as the Motorwise Dancers (Kate Searle, Charlotte Williams, Jasmine Glenister, and Bernadette Ward) finish their routine. As the announcer (Jessica Sullivan) tells of some breaking news, the TV’s floor manager (Ebony Uetake) shows in a special guest.

     Will Jonny find a new love? Why is Miss Strict so miserable? What will happen at the next Prom?

The lively ensemble comprised Noah Slater-Gauci, Nichola Balestri, Jacob Spinks, Sarah-Rose Kelly, Aiden Mellor, and Daniel Muller.

 

The lighting design (Kate Lloyd, Alex Coutts-Smith) was exceptional, with the new LED lamps being used to their full potential. The musical numbers had numerous lighting changes in time with the beat, coupled with various pattern effects. The smooth sound design and operation was by David Hardie.

With massive casts, the entrances and exits often result in a line building up to get off stage and into the wings, this time the cast were quick, slick and did not impede the set changes.

There were a couple of fun numbers, ‘Rules, Regulations and Respect’ that had a particularly good, complicated dance routine (choreographer Kate Lloyd), and the saucy number ‘Exposé’ which brought a smile.

Once again the director is the wildly adventurous, Ryan S McNally, who with his regular team of Musical Director, Maree Andersen and Choreographer, Kate Lloyd has given us a wonderfully colourful, dynamic show. The story lines are a bit thin, although there a couple of twists at the end, however, the singers and dancers put every drop of enthusiasm and strength into their well-rehearsed performances.

Sheryl Gale and Alison Kovacs created the bright and colourful 1950s costumes, designed by Ryan S. McNally, especially for the show.

This review relates to the final rehearsal, which was admirable and flawless.

Despite the title, there is no gore or horror in this show, and so it is suitable for all of the family. Full of energetic, sparkling songs and good fun.