Night of the Touching Zombies production recap

In one of our biggest projects to date, we had the honor of staging a new play for last year’s Nightmare Horror Halloween Festival.  I wrote a one-act called Night of the Touching Zombies.   Our production stood out amongst the bone-chilling fare of the festival, by not being particularly scary.

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Zombie Myron delights a fellow abomination (Evelyn Sullivan) with the gift of a pretty flower

 

Well, occasionally we would earn a legitimate shriek from some zombie-averse bystander, but ultimately we skewed more towards the ‘cute’ side of the cute-to-terrifying spectrum.

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Skillz (Zach Seekins) is confronted with terrifying zombie snorgs

 

Here’s how it went:  The play opens on the exterior of a small Ranch-style suburban house. The audience is immediately assaulted by a brigade of undead, and by my I-wish-I-was-John-Carpenter Night of the Touching Zombies Musical Theme

The shambling begins right away
Right away begins the shambling

From there, we follow the struggle for survival of a suburban couple, Barbara (Anna Doyle), and Myron (Owen Scott),  after an unexpected zombie apocalypse.

Barbara (Anna Doyle) and Myron (Owen Scott), seconds before the collapse of their marriage
Barbara and Myron (on the right), seconds before their marriage collapses

 

Capable Barbara soon finds herself taking refuge in the nearby Rambler.  The house belongs to a woman of questionable mental acuity, who will only identify herself as “Grandma”

Grandma wonders what will be in the sandwich tonight
Grandma tries to remember what she put in tonight’s sandwich

 

Soon, the two are joined by Grandson Ron (Anna Foss Wilson) and his son, Skillz (Zach Seekins).

Ron would be a Trump voter for sure
Ron would absolutely vote for Donald Trump

 

Self-assured Skillz gets his manners and outlook on life from the MOBA community
Self-assured Skillz gets his manners and outlook on life from MOBA chat (he is a psychopath)

 

Meanwhile, Myron is having a terrible time of things after accidentally turning himself into a zombie in the first scene.

Myron, pondering the hows and whys of love and relationships
Myron ponders the hows and whys of love and relationships

 

Ron ponders the hows and whys of brutally killing his family members
Ron ponders the hows and whys of brutally killing his family members

 

After tuning-in to a questionable emergency broadcast, the group resolves to stay indoors, and turn Grandma’s rambler into a fortress.  But after only a few days of each other’s company, they all go quite mad.

Everyone reacts to stress differently
Everyone reacts to stress differently
Ron thinks he has it all figured out
Ron thinks he has it all figured out
Barbara wants answers and Skillz wants blood
Barbara wants answers and Skillz wants blood
Ron has clearly failed as a father
Ron may have actually failed as a father
Unhinged, Barbara finds her companions sociopathic tendencies contagious
Barbara eventually succumbs to  sociopathic lunacy

 

I won’t spoil what happens but I can reveal that the play, predictably, ends in a maelstrom of Zombified chaos, and a funk/soul hip-hop mashup.

too late to run
Zombies bring the funk

 

We loved doing this show so much.  Everybody was terrific in it.  We ripped an old woman in half onstage.

Barbara and Ron lost Zombie Grandma's upper half in a tug-of-war with Skillz
Barbara and Ron lose Zombie Grandma’s upper half in a tug-of-war with Skillz
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Half-Grandma (Alex Shepard) utilizes her bipedal palm-walk

 

We used cloth and paper as substitutes for liquid blood, and then splattered it all over the place.

Barbara loses it after unloading a full clip into her husband, who was only trying to apologize
Barbara loses it after unloading a full clip into her husband, who was only trying to apologize

 

We kicked zombies down an imaginary hill!

Zombies have no ability to defend themselves
Zombies have no ability to defend themselves

 

We re-imagined a sequence from a 1987 hit romantic dance movie

"No one put zombie in corner"999
“No one puts zombie in corner” – Kate Ruby Klenfner

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All in all NoTZ was a phenomenal experience for us.  Tim Haskell and Paul Smithyman, The Nightmare Horror Show team, were a joy to work with.  The other shows in the festival were all extremely creative, artistically competent, and pretty scary!

We had some technical hurdles the first few nights.   But the best part of this whole experience was that we had enough performances in the run for the cast to really get the hang of the show and hit an tremendous stride.   Our ‘off’ nights were fun, and our ‘on’ nights were thrilling.  We scared some kids, gave some people joy and made some great friends.

From left: Jason Ellis, Ev Sullivan, Zach Seekins, Alex Shepard, Christine DiTolvo, and Anna Foss Wilson
From left: Jason Ellis, Ev Sullivan, Zach Seekins, Alex Shepard, Christine DiTolvo, and Anna Foss Wilson