It was an evening of surprises and laughter this past Saturday as audiences enjoyed Sunnyside High School's production of "Zombie Prom the Musical."
Set in the 1950s when America both celebrated and feared nuclear technology, this production was rather cute and creepy at the same time. One of the main characters, Jonny Warner (Sergio Ramirez), after all does turn into a nuclear zombie after jumping into a nuclear power plant.
But the truth of the matter is the storyline is about misconceptions and the romantic draw between the "bad boy" and the "good girl."
In this particular musical the dialogue takes its proper backseat to the song and dance of the ensemble on stage. The delivery of lines meant to tickle the funny bone hit all the right spots, although there were other funny moments that elicited a laugh from just a few audience members.
At first, I thought Toffee (Abby Gomez) was going to be lost in it all. Cast as the love interest of Jonny, her voice wasn't very strong in the beginning.
However, what seemed to be a rather soft voice in the prologue came through in the rest of the production. Gomez seemed to get stronger with each scene and her pain at losing her boyfriend felt almost real.
Ramirez, the zombie, was most impressive as he recited fast-paced lyrics in "Case Closed."
The two were very strong lyrically when they performed "The Voice of the Ocean," a song about Toffee's love reaching Jonny after his body had been buried at sea.
Although Jonny comes back from the dead, revived by Toffee's love, the power battle is not over. The couple must overcome prejudice and the authority of Lizzie Sustaita's Delilah Strict, who has reasons of her own for not liking the rebel in Jonny.
Sustaita is convincing as the principal of Enrico Fermi High School. She has a mature voice and mannerisms that make one believe she is older than she is.
Eddie Flagrante (Zane Rodriguez) seems to have something to do with Strict's prejudices...another romance gone badly?
Zane Rodriguez is convincing as a reporter for a tabloid television news show, inserting humor and persistence as he follows the story of the young man turned zombie.
There are some complex dance and singing numbers in Zombie Prom, some of which seemed a little much for some cast members. However, the dance numbers were very well choreographed and indicative of the era.
The costumes were well-thought out, too. From pencil skirts to poodle skirts...from argyle sweaters to horn-rimmed glasses and high-topped Converse shoes, the details were present, taking the audience back to the 1950s.
The set is simple with most scenes in the hallway at Enrico Fermi High School. To change the scenery, a few minor adjustments were all that were needed, but those adjustments were sufficient to draw the audience from the newsroom to the high school and one scene with Toffee in her living room, talking with her friends on the telephone.
The one leftover element remaining in each setting was the hanging neutrons, which could have been drawn up and out of sight of the audience.
The entire musical culminates with senior prom, which Sustaita's character threatens repeatedly to cancel. Surprise revelations and hilarious lines make for an ending the audience won't easily forget.
All-in-all this musical was a joy to watch and the performers did a wonderful job with it.
There are three more opportunities to see this delightful production, this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Sunnyside High School auditorium.
Ticket prices are $6 for adults and $3 for seniors and students.