book and lyrics by
W.S. Gilbert & Scott Miller
music and orchestrations by
Arthur Sullivan & John Gerdes
Sept. 27-Oct. 20, 2018


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"The world is off its hinges and the lib’rals are protecting them,
But we know what’s more fun is catching zombies and dissecting them.
It’s like that music video of Michael Jackson’s Thriller,
So I’m proud to stand before you as a modern-era zombie killer.

I don’t approve of inter-species sex (except the lower forms);
I also don’t agree with re-defining all our social norms.
I’d like to live my life without the lib’rals making fun o’ me;
I have the right to be a zombie bigot if I wanna be.
They lay a decomposing hand on any of my daughters, though,
And this retired zombie hunter can’t rule out a slaughter; no,
I’ll hunt the sons of bitches down; I’ll chase ‘em till I run ‘em raw.
I will not have a zombie for a pet or for a son-in-law!"

Gilbert & Sullivan's long-lost, original "operatic abomination," in its wacky world premiere!

New Line Theatre, “the bad boy of musical theatre,” has shocked the music world by discovering a long-lost first draft by the legendary British team of librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, who together wrote fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896.

One of the team's best known works, The Pirates of Penzance, originally debuted in New York in 1879, and was revived to great success in the early 1980s with Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt, and Rex Smith. What we now know is that there was an earlier, stranger draft of the show, which nobody knew about until now, with most of the same characters but a somewhat different plot.

In Gilbert & Sullivan's never-before seen original draft, dated December 1878 and titled The Zombies of Penzance (with the unwieldy subtitle, At Night Come the Flesh Eaters), Major-General Stanley is a retired zombie hunter, who doesn't want his daughters marrying the dreaded Zombies of Penzance (for obvious reasons). According to documents found with the manuscripts, Gilbert and Sullivan finished work on The Zombies of Penzance in early 1879, but their producer Richard D’Oyly-Carte refused to produce it, calling it vulgar, impolitic, and unchristian, and in one letter, "an operatic abomination, an obscene foray into the darkest of the occult arts." In a letter to his cousin, Gilbert expressed his deep disappointment, writing "I fear the walking dead shall be the end of me yet."

Until now, music scholars had been baffled by that reference.

After a battle that almost ended the partnership, the team reluctantly agreed to rewrite their show, and in December 1879, D'Oyly-Carte debuted the much more conventional, revised version, The Pirates of Penzance, for which Gilbert added the characters of Ruth and the policemen, and incorporated plot devices from his 1870 work Our Island Home and from Offenbach’s The Bandits. He also cut one song, Frederic's Act I lament, “They Leave Me Alone.” The music for that discarded song found its way into the score for their next show Patience, as the song "I Cannot Tell What This Love May Be.” As he had agreed, Gilbert eliminated all references to zombism in the show.

In 2013, New Line artistic director Scott Miller discovered the original manuscripts for The Zombies of Penzance in the second sub-basement of the Judson Memorial Church in New York, hidden beneath some moldy band parts from Rockabye Hamlet and Shogun the Musical, and Miller set about reconstructing the bizarre original show as G&S intended. Gilbert's walking dead and their Zombie King now make their long-delayed world premiere. Miller has painstakingly reassembled these rediscovered materials into their original form, and St. Louis composer and orchestrator John Gerdes is reconstructing Sullivan's music.

Now, for the first time, audiences will be able to see and hear the comic, flesh-eating insanity Gilbert & Sullivan originally wrought.

The New Line cast includes Sean Michael as Frederic, Melissa Felps as Mabel, Zachay Allen Farmer as Major General Stanley, Dominic Dowdy-Windsor as the Zombie King, with Mara Bollini, Kent Coffel, Robert Doyle, Matt Hill, Lindsey Jones, Tim Kaniecki, Kyle Kelesoma, Melanie Kozak, Sarah Porter, Christina Rios, and Kimi Short. The show will be directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, with music direction by Nicolas Valdez, lighting design by Rob Lippert, scenic design by Kenneth Zinkl, costume design by Sarah Porter, and sound design by Ryan Day.

Want to explore more?
We recommend:

The rewritten version, The Pirates of Penzance, in its 1980 off Broadway revival

The cast album of the 1981 Broadway production of The Pirates of Penzance

The full orchesstral score for The Pirates of Penzance


THE ZOMBIES OF PENZANCE runs Sept. 27-Oct. 20, 2019, Thursday through Saturday evenings, all performances at 8:00 p.m., at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in the Grand Center Arts District. Sept. 27 is a preview. Click here for directions.

Tickets are on sale now through MetroTix outlets, including the Fox Theatre box office. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students/seniors on Thursdays; and $30 for adults and $25 for students/seniors on Fridays and Saturdays. All ticket sales will include a service fee and a $1.00 facility fee. To charge tickets by phone, call MetroTix at 314-534-1111 or visit the Fox Theatre box office or the Metrotix website.

HIGH SCHOOL DISCOUNT: Any high school student with a valid school ID can get a $10 ticket for any performance all season long, with the code word for each show, which will posted only on New Line's Facebook page. This offer is available only at the door.

EDUCATORS DISCOUNT: New Line offers all currently employed educators half price tickets on any Thursday night, with work ID or other proof of employment. Not valid in connection with other discounts or offers, available only at the door, and subject to availability.

MILITARY DISCOUNT: New Line offers all active duty military personnel half price tickets on any Thursday night, with ID or other proof of active duty status. Not valid in connection with other discounts or offers, available only at the door, and subject to availability.

All programs subject to change. New Line Theatre receives funding from the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council.

Click Here for info on free seats and other great ticket deals!