By: Paulanne Simmons
February 4, 2019: George A. Romero and John Russo’s classic horror Film, Night of the Living Dead, cost $114,000 to shoot, grossed $12 million domestically and $18 million internationally, led to five subsequent films, and inspired two remakes. The film entered the public domain when the original distributor, the Walter Reade Organization, erroneously removed the copyright statements from the prints.
And so we have Night of the Living Dead! The Musical.
With book, music, and lyrics by Jordan Wolfe, the show premiered at Don’t Tell Mama and is now in a limited run at Theater Row. Directed by Mitchell Walker (who also choreographs), a cast of five (Jaime Cepero, Meg Lanzarone, Michelle Dowdy, Michael Buchanan, Jordan Wolfe and Susan J. Jacks) plays all the important characters. Fans of the cult film will be happy to learn the musical does not stray in any major points from the film.
Barbra and her brother Johnny drive to rural Pennsylvania to visit their father’s grave, where Johnny is killed by a strange man. Barbra seeks refuge in a farmhouse, where she meets Ben; teenage couple, Tom and Judy; and, up from the cellar, Harry and his dipsomaniac wife Helen and their daughter Betty-Lou. As the radio broadcasts mayhem and murder, and the local authorities and expert scientists try to manage the situation, the terrified band await their destiny.
Walker has provided a riotous score of rock n’ roll, rhythm n’ blues and power ballads, with lyrics that are lots of fun. The script is campy and tongue-in-cheek. There’s love and death, blood and gore, courage and fear. And the energetic actors seem to be having a great time. So will you!
Night of the Living Dead! The Musical
410 West 42 Street.
Running Time: 85 Minutes, including intermission
Through Feb. 8
Photography: Parker Slaybaugh