Greasers meet gamma rays in Fremont's Zombie Prom

Act One: Get your hero up a tree.
Act Two: Throw rocks at him.
Act Three: Get him down again.

            -Alan Alda quoting George Abbott
            “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed”

The playwright’s simplest structural formula is not difficult. Its easy to plug in whatever elements you need into this basic idea and create a great dramatic work. Let’s do the math:

(Hero = Billy Crocker, Tree = A Boat, Rocks = Forbidden Love) = Anything Goes

(Hero = Carnelle Scott, Tree = Beauty Pageant, Rocks = People’s Opinions) = The Miss Firecracker Contest

(Hero = Remy, Tree = A French Restaurant, Rocks = Identity Crisis) = Ratatouille

Plug in James Dean-esque rebel, a 1950’s high school, and the hero turning into a radioactive zombie, and you have the formula for Zombie Prom. Fremont High School has tackled this fun Off-Broadway work and created a production which is just the ticket for a late spring musical at any high school. The show pulls heavily from 1950’s zombie films most notably 1955’s Creature With The Atom Brain (right), as well as such poodle-skirted musical theatre classics as Grease and Bye, Bye, Birdie. It is a fun mix, and a very entertaining juxtaposition of genres from the era.

In the lovelorn leading lady role of Toffee, Rain Scott’s voice rings out loud and strong, voicing at first her youthful enthusiasm, then utter heartbreak at the death of her beloved rebel Jonny Warner (Kristofer Misch), then her incredulous reaction to her callous classmates who implore her to move on and find a date for the prom. Scott’s work is particularly memorable in the retelling of Jonny’s death during “Jonny Don’t Go”, as she is flanked by a girl-group quartet (Jennifer Morris, Endrie Yanogacio, Susana Alvarez and Savanna Kiene) in an obvious ode to The Shirelles. Morris is a perfect character compliment to Scott, playing the comically vapid deadpan to hilarious effect.

Misch’s “Rebel without an ‘H’” (an obvious James Dean reference) hits much stronger after his suicide at the nuclear power plant when he returns, crawling out from Toffee’s locker and stretching his pipes in “Blast From The Past”. He is not alone, being backed up by his own male quartet (Joe Kaho, Jazz Legaspi, Stefan Vargo, and Trevor Snow) who show impressive harmonizing skills throughout the show.

Kristofer Misch and Rain Scott
The vocal skills of the entire cast sell this show from top to bottom. Under the musical direction of Joe Howard, the students create striking aural texture within the score which mixes the classic sounds of the period with some more modern musical savvy. It is a great sounding show, which is paired beautifully with costumes by Lauren Kurtz, Hillary Manning and Willa Snow. (Additional note: great to see so many students as active members of the International Thespian Society.)

When asked about a high school program performing a piece where the characters are high schoolers themselves, director Billy Houck stated that it added to the honesty of the show. “The kids had no problem buying into the dynamic of an oppressive regime with unreasonable rules”, a theme used by the administration in the show’s “Enrico Fermi High” to keep the zombie Jonny from returning to school. It is this honesty about the social roles they play in this cartoonish land, and their reactions to authority and young love which help make a somewhat fluffy script fun for the audience.

Zombie Prom is a curious show, from its title to its mix of 1950’s cultural fads. It is also an enjoyable show and the perfect preamble to a chocolate malt at the drive-in on these newly arrived warm nights.

Fremont High School presents Zombie Prom.
FHS Shannon Theatre
1279 Sunnyvale Saratoga Road
Sunnyvale, CA 94087-2593
May 6, 7 at 7:30pm
May 8 at 2:30pm
Tickets: $10 at the door
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