Photographs on this blog post are courtesy of Ohio Northern University.
For the past twenty years I’ve been acquainted with Ohio Northern University’s theatre and music program, I’ve never been let down, once.
ZOMBIE PROM could have been the first.
Since September, I’ve been impressed by DANCING AT LUGHNASA and the Ohio Northern Symphony Orchestra’s DISNEY’S MAGIC OF THE MOVIES. The evening before I attended ZOMBIE PROM, I saw WAR HORSE at Dayton’s Schuster Center.
I had every reason to be let down during Saturday’s matinee.
On the contrary, I had a great time with this relatively unknown musical that mimics a horrible 1950’s B-movie. The musical is designed with tremendous energy, and the strong direction and cast did not abandon the writers’ prescription.
The cast, under the consistent, energized direction of Thomas Ridgely, was a strong, capable ensemble of ten. Considering the fact that several very fine actresses had committed to DANCING AT LUGHNASA the previous month, the cast of ZOMBIE PROM certainly was not a second-string cast as one might guess.
The ensemble, during the Saturday matinee, doled out tight vocals and an energy that was exhausting. Sitting in the smaller, black-box theatre was an excellent venue to keep the audience’s energy in tact with the casts’.
Actress Kayla Burress was exceptionally strong, and terribly hilarious as the principal, Miss Delilah Strict. I always found myself eager for her to return to the stage. The young actor playing the zombie was, perhaps, the weaker member of the cast. Vocally, he was often straining, and by show’s end was a tad raspy. Timothy Swaim, excellently cast as the newspaper reporter to break the zombie story, created many fine comedic moments, but none as much fun as when paired with Kayla Burress. They were always full of steam!
The orchestra, perched on an overhead mezzanine, added to the main floor’s energy, and was not overpowering in the small confines of the black-box.
For me, the real winners for the production were the set design/execution, and the lighting design.
Since a friend of mine works in the scene shop, I receive tidbits of production preparation. This set design was adorable, and perfect touch for the smaller space. Daniel George is becoming one of my favorite designers, ranked closely with my heroes, Terry Stump of Sinclair Community College, Mike Cordonnier of Centerville High School, and Adam Koch of New York City, formerly Oakwood, Ohio. This production requires numerous set changes, and the use of various scenic pieces to create the illusion of the varied locations was masterful! The set changes, often incorporated into the choreography, never once stalled the energy of the production.
Another winner for this tightly designed production was the lighting. Junior theatre and history major, Tyson Miller, is another young lighting designer I wish to keep an eye on, along with Centerville High School graduates, Jackson Gallagher and David Corson. The lighting design was as energetic as the production itself, and I cannot even begin to imagine just how many cues were called. Tyson’s design enhanced every inch of this production without being obtrusive. I only noticed it because… well, it’s my thing.
ZOMBIE PROM was fun. It was a delightful romp leading into Halloween!