Thursday, October 20, 2011

Musical of the Living Dead

© Jacquelyn Peterman
With Halloween just around the corner, do you find yourself with a hankerin' for BRAINS? I surely do! Aren't we lucky that The Charnel House is proudly presenting “Musical of the Living Dead” for its sophomore year—right here in Logan Square!
If you aren't already familiar with the Charnel House, it's a multi-arts space on Fullerton that actually used to be a funeral home. Both super cool and spooky, right? The lovely building makes the perfect home for our favorite zombie musical!

I had the pleasure of attending opening night last Thursday—and it was a bloody good time! Other than knowing it was a musical about zombies, I had no idea what to expect when I arrived that rainy evening. The first two rows of the audience were wearing ponchos—which made me think immediately, “Splatter zone!” And boy was I right! I recorded over a over a dozen blood squirts and a handful of water splashes making it into the audience. Every time there was an effect,  the audience would roar with laughter. It was fantastic. Within the first five minutes there were literally guffaws coming out of the entire crowd—and not just because it's BYOB!

The storyline often mirrors that of the zombie films' origins, the 1968 blockbuster, Night of the Living Dead. Ten individuals are stuck together in a house during the zombie takeover (said to be caused by Peruvian rat monkeys) and the inevitable happens. How many will die? Well that you'll just have to find out yourself! Musical of the Living Dead even went the extra mile in Romero references, being set in Western Pennsylvania with heavy mention on the Monroeville Mall and several cast wearing Steelers hats. As a zombie-lovin', Pittsburgh native this little attention to detail made the musical even sweeter for me.
© Jacquelyn Peterman

The cast and writing provide the perfect marriage of clever lines and a little wiggle room for improvisation; from what I've heard it's not exactly the same show every night. So expect the quirky one-liners and the the “buckets” of blood to fluctuate and morph as the nights progress. Original songs were sung loud and proud with lyrics that are not child appropriate, but made all adults giggle, like when the girl scout sings, “I'm gonna eat your tongue, so you shut the f*** up”. So if crude humor, horror, pop culture references, and musicals all happen to be your thing—this may have been made for you. Oh, and even the intermission music was spot on, with Michael Jackson's Thriller, Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, and Rob Zombie's Dragula.

Need a little more persuasion, check out IALS contributor, Philip Burg's, promotional video below:


Bring on the blood squirts and creative kills (my favorite was the blender) and remember kids, “The one's who are really dead, are the living ones”.

© Jacquelyn Peterman

Musical of the Living Dead
-Thursday Oct 13 through Saturday Nov 12
-Charnel House: 3421 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago IL 60647
-Tickets $20 in advance, or $25 at the door.
Book & Lyrics by Marc Lewallen and Brad Younts
Music by Mary Spray
Musical Arrangements by Matt Mehawich
Produced by The Cowardly Scarecrow Theatre Company, INC 



 -Alex Palmer

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