Theatre Puts on Amazing Production of “Night of The Living Dead”

Emily Yoon and Reya Mehta

   On Oct. 16, 17 and 18, West Ranch’s Advanced Theatre class put on “Night of the Living Dead,” a cult-classic film adapted for the stage. The play, which regales the story of a zombie apocalypse in the 1950s, took a decidedly feminist, darkly comedic twist in this rendition.

   Chika Ma set the mood of the play with a horror movie-worthy scream. Sophomore Ashley Sullivan portrayed the role of Barbra, a sensitive and loyal young woman. Barbra’s sister, Joanna (Natalie Ramirez), is attacked in the first few minutes of the play, causing Barbra to flee. 

   Other escapees of the zombies include practical siblings Ben (Gabe Carson) and Rhonda (Emma Bates), nervous wreck Harry (Bryce Blackwell) and his selfish wife Helen (Shelby Ghassemi), and teen couple Judy (Paris Paal) and Tom (Tyler Reese), who join Barbara at an abandoned house and attempt to fend off the zombies.

    The play’s soundtrack and lighting were fittingly spooky, as a color-changing neon backdrop behind the set bordered on the otherworldly. Convincing makeup gave zombie characters a gory appearance. 

   “Night of the Living Dead” was the theatre department’s first-ever Halloween play and an endeavor into the dark comedy genre. 

   “I’m most excited for how we are changing up what genre we are showing off for the students and parents,” gushed actor Bryce Blackwell. Blackwell, whose portrayal of Harry left audiences cackling in their seats, continued enthusiastically about the changes to the play. 

   “We decided to make some of the female characters being more empowered and independent. We decided to do this because we wanted to show the equal opportunity between a man and a woman in society,” Blackwell told The Paw Print.

   The changes to the script included switching many of the roles to girls and splitting up the role of Ben into two roles: Ben and his sister, Rhonda. 

   Emma Bates shared, “I connect to her [Rhonda] due to our shared sense of determination.” 

    Ultimately, the dynamic characters and their witty interactions made this show incredibly enjoyable. From Paris Paal and her portrayal of the quietly courageous Judy to Shelby Ghassemi as the casually caustic Helen, audiences hoped for the lovable troupe to make it out alive. 

   Sadly, all the characters were devoured by zombies in the climactic finale, but not before descending in a spiral of chaos that posed the powerful question to the audience: How would you behave during a zombie apocalypse?