Zombies are taking over Shenendehowa High School!
For seven days, the comedic musical “Zombie Prom” will hit the stage at Shen High School East Little Theater in Clifton Park, starting Friday, Oct. 21.
“It’s right around Halloween so we’re kind of using that to our advantage, it being a zombie musical,” said Jason Ford, director.
This is Ford’s first time directing a production for the Not So Common Players, Clifton Park’s community theater troupe, but it is far from his first brush with “Zombie Prom.”
“I was excited. I like the show and worked on it a number of times prior,” said Ford.
When the theater group’s Board of Directors was searching for a fall production, Chairwoman Sally Burke said attracting a younger and more mixed audience was the goal.
“We wanted to reach a young audience and hopefully this show will do it. ….We don’t get a lot of families with kids and we thought this show at Halloween with a theme sort of like ‘Grease’ would work,” said Burke.
Ford has taken some artistic liberty with the show and put a spin on the musical he said he hopes will draw in younger viewers.
“I used high school students in the roles of the students. Traditionally it’s done with adults but I made the choice to use high school students from around the region to fill those roles,” said Ford.
That directorial flexibility is what made working with the Not So Common Players a positive experience, he said.
“They have a lot of great people on their staff and they’re very supportive,” said Ford. “It was nice to meet new people. …They gave me a lot of free reign.”
“Zombie Prom” is a spoof on the ‘50s and debuted off-Broadway in New York City in the early ‘90s. Ford said it’s a show people can’t help but enjoy because of its appeal to old and young.
“My goal was to get as many laughs out of it as we could and work it to be an all around enjoyable show,” said Ford. “I think people can get a lot out of it except just dancing zombies.”
Though it’s become a successful show and was even adapted into a film, Ford said zombies are now more popular than ever.
“America, right now, is fascinated with zombies. So many TV shows running are based on zombies, movies and video games; America can’t seem to get enough of them, so why not do a musical about zombies,” said Ford.
Ford sits in the director’s seat, now, but he used to be the one entertaining on stage.
“I started out as a performer and as I got older I enjoyed doing it very much but at a certain age you have to question, ‘Am I good enough to actually make it onstage or am I better behind the stage?’ and I made that transition in high school,” said Ford, who has directed plays for 14 years.
Seeing the show come together is his favorite part.
“It’s definitely challenging, the whole process from start to finish, but it’s always worth it at the end when the curtain goes up and I see the audience enjoying themselves,” said Ford.
All “Zombie Prom” performances are free, just like all Not So Common Players productions.
“The town of Clifton Park supports us 100 percent and they fund what we do with the stipulation that it is free to people because it’s taxpayer money that they’re giving us,” said Burke. “It’s giving back to the community.”
The theater group, formed 11 years ago, puts on three productions a year and is planning one extra event this season.
“We’re putting together a musical review [at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library] we hope we can do several times or use it as a traveling gig,” said Burke.
“Zombie Prom” will show Oct. 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29 and 30. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m., Sunday shows are at 2 p.m. and Thursday shows are at 7:30 p.m.