FRINGE REVIEW: Zombie! The Musical

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lindsay-harris-friel.thumbnail.jpegBY LINDSAY HARRIS-FRIEL FRINGE CORRESPONDENT Some Fringe shows are just plain fun, and others make you think. Zombie the musical combines the best of both worlds. Gather up your friends, get yourself all hyped up on sugar, and head out to Plays and Players, the nearly hundred-year-old grand dame of Philadelphia’s theatres. Have a drink at Quig’s Pub on the third floor, and then settle in to the weathered and well-loved auditorium. It’s all part of the experience. Don’t mind the plastic sheets you might see in the first few rows; these are for your comfort and convenience, should you choose to sit in the splatter zone. Theatre should be fun. Zombie is a labor of love for the classics; cult horror films and American musicals. Prior to 1987 and the tragic death of Michael Bennett (A Chorus Line), the American musical was a particular creation that could be magical on any budget. Then Andrew LloydWebber had to swoop in and ruin it for everybody. If you fondly remember a time when a show could be fun to create, perform and tech, this is your show. Its white picket fence and steps recall the simplicity of rural America and take on locations both pastoral and sinister. The rock band (The Sobriquets) onstage, protected behind more plastic, play engaging and contagious tunes that evoke the radio on a long summer road trip and the spindles of nightmares.

The characters are the touchstones of the classic musical, cult horror film, myth and legend; the idealistic, virginal young lovers, the wise-woman mentor, the sage warrior, the mad scientist and healer, the army of darkness. The script saves character exploration for the songs, where it should be in a musical; most painful are Bella’s “Monster” and “Bella’s Story,” as well as Conrad’s “Hero,” and his and Tori’s “Let’s Go.” Most powerful are the vocals of all the performers, especially Davon Williams in “Trapped,” but also capable of haunting, poignant, harmonies, particularly in the case of Ken Sandberg, Victoria Frings, Johanna Dunphy and Nicholas Troy. The songs are masterfully written, particularly the delicate “Let’s Go,” with an arpeggio that recalls Marillion’s Childhood’s End album. However, the guitarists could have employed a pedal system to create more tonal variance and depth throughout the show. See this show for fun, enjoy the splatter, the songs, and the ultraviolence. Then read Men, Women and Chainsaws by Carol J. Clover, and Not Since Carrie by Ken Mandelbaum, and see how this musical is a lovingly crafted retelling of our worst fears and how we present them.

Zombie! The Musical

Tue. 9/8 8:00 PM Plays and Players Theatre
1714 Delancey Place $15.00
Thu. 9/10 10:00 PM Plays and Players Theatre
1714 Delancey Place $15.00
Fri. 9/11 11:59 PM Plays and Players Theatre
1714 Delancey Place $15.00

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