Zombies will invade Westerville North High School from Oct. 22-24 with performances of Night of the Living Dead.
Director Tina Gleason said she chose Night of the Living Dead because she is a fan of film-noir movies and wanted to give students a platform to show their skills.
“This play allows us to get more students involved, especially in terms of help with special-effects makeup,” she said. “The makeup artists have been able to practice and photograph their work for their portfolios.”
Performances are scheduled at 7 p.m. on Oct. 23 and 24. Tickets cost $6 each and can be purchased at the door or in advance online.
The production is not suitable for young children. It lasts for approximately 80 minutes with no intermission.
More than 78 students are involved in the play, with 35 members of the “zombie squad” and 17 students in the cast.
The play was written by Lori Allen Ohm and is based on the original film by George Romero and John Russo.
In the show, a mysterious radiation has transformed the unburied dead into flesh-eating zombies and seven people are trapped in an isolated farmhouse, held hostage by the ravenous horde.
Actors got a chance to learn stage combat, a skill Gleason said would help them in their future acting careers.
“The stage is a fantastic platform to do everything you can’t do in real life, such as combat,” she said.
Many students were learning stage combat for the first time and found it quite challenging.
“Dear Lord, this is hard,” sighed freshman Nick Martz during a rehearsal. “I don’t have to fake being out of breath because it’s exhilarating but exhausting.”
Martz described his character, Ben, as a guy who is thrown into the zombie apocalypse and takes on a leadership role but starts to deteriorate throughout the show.
This is Gleason’s first time directing a show at North, after the previous director Kim Mollohan stepped down.
“My directing style is to make it a creative process for the actors,” she said. “I try to describe my vision to them and ask a lot of questions so we can find a creative middle.”
Senior Taylor Crumrine said it was a little scary to have a new director, but she is rising to the challenge.
“I think it’ll prepare me for next year when I go to college and I’ll have a new director there. At least here, it’s the same stage and same people,” she said.
Crumrine’s character, Helen Cooper, the mother of the household, is one of many characters who faces off against the zombies.
“I actually get really scared and freaked out,” she said. “I mean, there’s hands coming in at me through the windows.”
Senior Nick Alvord plays Harry Cooper, Helen’s husband.
“He’s a stubborn, grumpy old man who doesn’t want to listen to anyone,” Alvord said. “It’s basically me in real life, so it’s kind of an easy role to play.”
Alvord said his death scene is his favorite moment in the show because he has the chance to be creative.
“It’s a gore fest. I’m attacked by a daughter, shot by another character and then I fall down the stairs,” he said.