It has fast-paced '50s-style music, poodle skirts and saddle shoes, and cardigans and pompoms galore. It has . . . nuclear waste and dead people? It is Bishop Ireton's production of "Zombie Prom."
"Zombie Prom" is a fast and exciting journey through teenage angst, conformity and rebellion. Jonny (without an "h", an extremely rebellious move on his part), played to a stylistic perfection by Peter Laclede, is the typical nonconforming teenager of the nuclear 1950s. When he enters Enrico Fermi High School, located across from a nuclear waste plant, he comes head-to-head with Miss Delilah Strict (Mary Myers), the uptight and over-the-top principal. Jonny then meets and falls in love with Toffee, the goody-two-shoes girl played by Karen O'Connell.
What happens next is the epitome of teenage angst. When Toffee breaks up with him because her parents disapprove, Jonny commits suicide by jumping into a nuclear waste silo. Toffee mourns him and when she exclaims her love of the dead rebel, he comes back as a zombie, ready to return the feeling. What happens after that can only be described as a ridiculous twist.
Bishop Ireton's production of "Zombie Prom" was close to perfection. The performances by O'Connell, Myers, Laclede and Josh Goldman (who played Eddie, the poker-faced and sarcastic reporter with a past), were extraordinary. Myers's performance was especially notable. Her powerful and at times edgy voice suited Miss Strict wonderfully, and Myers completely embraced the character.
The costumes, designed by Cosima Storz, Hannah Goldman and Crissy Herrera, were authentic to the time period and added to the unity of the ensemble. The stage crew was smooth, moving large set pieces unobtrusively fluidly. The effects, such as fake snow, were executed professionally and realistically. The makeup for Zombie Jonny was especially professional. Despite a few microphone flukes, the small cast was able to put on an impressive performance.
All in all, Bishop Ireton's production of "Zombie Prom" was professional, exciting, glamorous and created a suspense one would not expect from a zombie play. This show is most certainly not dead.
Even the dead are alive and kicking -- and singing and dancing, too -- in Bishop Ireton's production of "Zombie Prom."
When Enrico Fermi High's star pupil, Toffee, is forced to break up with bad-boy Jonny, he takes a headlong dive into a nuclear waste silo. It's a tragedy, sure, but it's nothing compared with the school's reaction when Jonny returns as a radioactive zombie. With the aid of tabloid reporter Eddie Flagrante, and pitted against Principal Delilah Strict, Jonny fights to stay in school and win back the love of his afterlife.
As Jonny, Peter Laclede is the liveliest corpse around. He is gleefully attitudinal in glow-in-the-dark makeup and a spiky green wig, and he lends the occasional touch of tenderness to his outlandish character. Opposite him, Karen O'Connell's Toffee is both innocent and independent, a charming combination. Laclede and O'Connell work beautifully together -- their duet "The Voice in the Ocean" is one of the sweetest moments in the show. In a subplot of their own, Mary Myers (as Miss Strict) and Josh Goldman (as Eddie) interact with intensity. Myers is alternately commanding and comic, particularly in the high-energy "Rules, Regulations and Respect," and Goldman comes out swinging with strong vocals in "That's The Beat For Me."
The EFHS students, as close as the show comes to straight characters, display an excellent ensemble dynamic. Toffee's girlfriends, played by Christine Gahagan, Meghan Verducci and Madeleine Schmoll, shine in the 1950s girl-group number "Jonny Don't Go," while Jonny's gang, consisting of Casey Scully, Matthew Aument and Daniel Boos, shows genuine camaraderie.
Impressive makeup design by Hannah Goldman and Andrea Borrelli makes the zombie look memorable. Costumes, by Cosima Storz, Hannah Goldman and Crissy Herrera, are fun and colorful. The choreography adds an extra bit of '50s spunk. The lighting, by Kim Miller and Emily Marquet, and set combine traditional high-school play and nuclear thriller, with a little newsroom drama thrown in for good measure. Julie Williams's props are realistic and well-placed, and Bethany Candalor's pyrotechnic effects keep the excitement high.
One would be hard-pressed to attach a serious hidden meaning to "Zombie Prom." Better to enjoy the show for what it is -- a rollicking, rock-and-roll roller coaster that won't die anytime soon.
Home School ITS
"Zombie Prom" continues this weekend at Bishop Ireton High School's Garwood Whaley Auditorium, 201 Cambridge Rd., Alexandria, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 703-751-7606.