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“Intense, creepy and full of slow-building tension . . .
For fans of Romero’s work, you’ve never seen it like this –
and it’s a must see.”
– Kevin Brackett, ReviewStL
“If you can really stand pure psychological terror, you can proceed west
for the stunning power of Night of the Living Dead.”
– Richard Green, TalkinBroadway
“A+. I was captivated mere seconds into the production
and by the time the cast took their bows I was out of breath.”
– Jeff Ritter, The Trades
“One of the most frightening evenings ever at a musical. . .
Night of The Living Dead is one musical you don’t want to miss!”
– Steve Allen, Stagedoor St. Louis
then this man started walking up the road,
He came slowly,
And Johnny kept teasing,
He’s coming to get you, Barbara...
And I laughed at him and I said, Johnny stop!
I’m not afraid!
Then off Johnny ran,
And I went up to this man,
I was going to apologize...
And I looked up and said,
He grabbed me.
He ripped me.
He held me.
He ripped at my clothes.
And I screamed, Johnny help me!
— Night of the Living Dead
New Line Theatre opened its 23rd season with the regional premiere of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, the taut musical thriller based on the classic 1968 George Romero film.
From the dynamic team of writer-lyricist Stephen Gregory Smith and composer-lyricist Matt Conner (Nevermore, Partial Eclipse, The Hollow) comes this powerful psychological thriller, re-imagining Romero's iconic walpurgisnacht for these times, zeroing in on the relationships among seven doomed strangers, who just may be the living dead themselves.
The New Line cast included Zachary Allen Farmer (Ben), Marcy Wiegert (Barbra), Mike Dowdy (Harry), Sarah Porter (Helen), Joseph McAnulty (Tom), Mary Beth Black (Judy) and Phoebe Desilets (Karen). The show was directed by Scott Miller, with costume design by Marcy Wiegert and Sarah Porter, with lighting and scenic design by Rob Lippert, and with sound design by Kerrie Mondy.
Like the Romero films, and with a nod to Jean-Paul Sartre's iconic play No Exit and its central theme that Hell is Other People, this claustrophobic story asks Big Questions. Could these seven people be trapped in this house for eternity, reliving the last night of their lives over and over? In this post-9/11 world, the story's metaphorical resonance has evolved. While the 1968 film was about the Culture Wars, the stage musical is about even more existential threats. Who are the zombies outside? When the Bad Guys look just like the Good Guys, how can we know who “they” are, and can we ever really be safe from "them"? Or could it be true, as the comic strip character Pogo once famously said, that "We have met the enemy and he is us."
Kim Paffenroth writes in his book Gospel of the Living Dead, “Zombie movies imagine a scenario far worse than nuclear war or a cabal of vampires taking over the world: they present us with a world in which humans and monsters become very hard to distinguish, and therefore the moral rules that guide our dealings with other humans – it is better to suffer injustice than to commit it, thou shalt not kill, love they neighbor, turn the other cheek – are discarded as irrelevant and unfeasible. . . The horrific nature of zombies and, many would say, terrorists, is that they may force us to act as barbarically and impetuously as they do. Zombies dehumanize humans by eliminating their chance to experience normal feelings of grief, mortality, or sacredness, and forcing them to substitute callous, unthinking, reflexive violence.” That deeper, psychological level is where this show lives.
Inspired by Richard Matheson's influential 1954 novella I Am Legend, the original 1968 black-and-white Night of the Living Dead film jump-started the modern zombie era, and the film has been preserved by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry. This stage adaptation of Night of the Living Dead was workshopped in New York and has had only one production so far, at the Kensington Arts Theatre in Maryland. New Line is very proud to present the regional premiere and the first professional production of this thrilling new work from this talented new writing team.
to explore more? We recommend:
The New Liners' blogs about the show and our creation process
Co-creator Stephen Gregory Smith's blog
Several excellent books
A great interview with George Romero about the film and its sequels
Director Scott Miller's blog post about other works based on Night of the Living Dead
The great book Theories of International Politics and Zombies
Richard Matheson's 1954 novella I Am Legend, which inspired Romero's Night of the Living Dead