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It’s easy for a director to choose a classic musical such as “Grease” or “My Fair Lady” for its yearly spring production. But zombies are a little more topical these days.
Capitalizing on the fascination of the undead spawned by the television show “Walking Dead” and current film “Warm Bodies,” Monticello High School is presenting the farcical production “Zombie Prom” March 1-3 in the high school auditorium. Show times are 7 p.m. the first two nights, followed by a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
“We’ve done things like ‘Grease’ in the past, and those are good because they can bring people in because they are well-known, but it’s also kind of nice to do an unknown one because you can do what you want with it. People don’t have as many expectations, so you can surprise them,” said Director Bess Lanker, an MHS graduate and first-year art teacher in the school district.
Assisting her in running rehearsals are music director Jenna Kyle-O’Brien and student directors Isabelle Rund and Ryan Rodgers.
Rund is loving this year’s show, but it took her a couple of rehearsals to get to that point.
“At first I was worried, but now I like it a lot. It has more rock and roll music and is fun to listen to,” she said.
Set in the 1950’s, cast members said they can’t help but hum the rockabilly and 50’s-style melodies all day long.
The comedy starts with a West Side Story-style theme as a boy (Jonny) from the wrong side of the tracks falls for Toffee, who is told by her upscale parents she can no longer date him.
After a terrible accident at the town’s nuclear power plant – punctuated by the song “Johnny Don’t Go to the Nuclear Plant” – the zombie portion of the musical hits its stride, complete with scenes from Enrico Fermi High School and its upcoming prom.
“I like this musical because it has a good pace,” said Lanker. “And the humor is great. It really makes me laugh.”
It also tells a time-honored romantic story, just in a different way.
“It’s the same as a lot of musicals in that they fall in love, but their journey in getting there is different than normal,” said Rund.
Rehearsals for the full musical, complete with choreography began in mid-January, with the cast of 40 practicing at least two hours a day, five days a week.
Those taking part in the musical March 1-3 are:
Cast – Lauren Derr, Becky Zocher, Abigail Heebner, Macy McCall, Claire Hettinger, Rachel Jones, Elizabeth Nisly-Nagele, Xa Burton, Grace Blickhan, Hanna Brunner, Haley Puszkiewicz, Britt Sheafe, Emily Defend, Annie Bales, Samuel Flannigan, Andrew Hanselman, Weston Stoddard, Gunnar Manion, Carter Ness, Adam Lagemann, Jayson Gard, Ryan Rodgers.
Chorus – Philip Brubaker, Abi Bueltmann, August Bueltmann, Natalie Carlisle, Carina Carpenter, Molly Copenhaver, Kayla Faulkner, Leah Freemon, Luke Hanselman, Calvin Hastings, Mary Grace Haugen, Marissa Hettinger, Mary Houska, Sam Kunde, Olivia Lanker, Elizabeth McGiles, Hannah Myers, Olivia Ness, Bailey Olsen, Andrew Piester, Ryan Rodgers, Isabelle Rund, Clare Schroeder, Joe Strater, Maggie Utgaard, Emily White, Alex Woolley, Sam Zandbergen.