Theater Review: It's Girl Loves Ghoul At TheatreWorks New Milford
NEW MILFORD — For a whole lot of good, clean hilariousness, go see TheatreWorks New Milford's current production of the musical Zombie Prom, with book and lyrics by John Dempsey and music by Dana P. Rowe. Under the very clever and skilled direction of Matt Austin, this production is just what the doctor ordered to clear out the gloom.
Sitting atop the nuclear waste of the atomic era, Enrico Fermi High is gearing up for prom night under the constant observation and intervention of Principal Delilah Strict (played by Jody Bayer). She brooks no nonsense.
When a new student in a moto jacket and just the right amount of Brill Cream swaggers his way into the senior class, the resident cutie pie, Toffee (Lexi Tobin), swoons and falls hard for the loner lover boy, Jonny (Tommy Ovitt). Ms Strict is not having any of it and Toffee's parents forbid the relationship. Both are heartbroken.
Despondent, Jonny rides off into the nuclear dumpsite in the sunset.
Toffee grieves as she is supported by her posse, Candy (Sydney Coelho), Coco (Dana Wilton), and Ginger (Erin Shaughnessy). She pines so fervently that Jonny reappears, looking a little decomposed, hence the title. She wants her boy back but there are some very obvious challenges.
The other boys — Joey (Richard Frey) and Josh (Karl Hinger) — are all hyped up to get to the prom, except one painfully shy Jake (who was played by Matt Austin opening night; actor Dominick Ventrella will be returning to the role). The kids are kids, amped up and angst-driven.
Reporter Eddie Flagrante (Stephen DiRocco) is hot on the trail of Jonny's story, while finding love in the most unexpected place with the most unsuspected person.
This cast is just great; the talent is off the charts, they all get an A+. Vocally, to a one, they are perfectly suited for the musical requirements of their roles. From a comedy performance standpoint, they are each the exact right portion of droll and broad.
Tobin and Ovitt's characters are as opposite as two can get. She's alive and he's dead, yet their chemistry lights up.
The girl gaggle of Shaughnessy, Coehlo, and Wilton is blunt, brassy, and benevolent; blending seamlessly, they are super performers. Jonny's guy friends — Frey, Hinger, and Austin — are equally in tune as compadres and clowns.
Stephen DiRocco's reporter, who struggles to find just the right breaking story, is a buffoon with boyish charm. This role requires quite a bit of ham and DiRocco brings it.
Playing the prickly principal, Bayer excels in her turn at broad, campy comedy. Her physical comedy skills provide a nonstop laugh riot. She is a skilled actress putting her considerable talents to full use in this demanding role. She makes it look easy, and better yet, fun!
The costumes by Margaret Jones have character of their own. They are perfectly designed to layer on the comedy.
Nothing says entertainment like a zombie in an almost mindless, musical comedy, and this one certainly does. While sporting a message of inclusiveness, it does not hammer it home; rather, the audience is effortlessly coaxed into laughing at something just because it's really funny. Pay attention to everything happening on the stage, the laughs are everywhere. Enjoy!