They're hunting for brains. And an audience.
An adaptation of George Romero's classic zombie film, Night of the Living Dead, will shamble onto the Dublin Coffman High School stage at 7 p.m. Jan. 23-25.
Copyrights on the 1968 film were never renewed so it entered public domain, allowing adaptation for the stage, said Director Mark Mann.
"There are eight different versions out there in play form," Mann said. "I was looking for something different and fun; something no one has done."
The show will run about one hour, Mann said, and remains relatively faithful to the film.
"It's pretty close, but we made some changes here and there," he said, noting that rather than having characters catch news bulletins on TV or the radio, the play will show them.
"We've broken it out to see the actual TV studio and the radio booth ... . Eventually the zombies break into the radio booth."
The original Night of the Living Dead also focused on racial issues as the hero and lone survivor were shot by police. Mann said Coffman's production will focus on other social commentary.
"We make it more about gung-ho law enforcement shooting at anything," he said.
The play also stays true to the film in its hues.
"It's monochromatic," Mann said. "Everything on stage has to be gray, black or white ... the zombies too. The only color onstage will be blood. We're keeping that nice and red."
Keeping the set and characters monochromatic has been a challenge, especially when it comes to zombie makeup.
"Everybody wanted to be involved with it," Mann said.
"Scott Cook, an art teacher, is helping with makeup. We have a team of kids we taught how to put on latex."
A former Coffman student also held a workshop for the student zombies on undead movement.
"Some were buried and came up out of the ground," Mann said. "There is a difference in what movements will be and the rate of decomposition."
Coffman's undead actors will be lumbering through the audience during the show, but eventually will be attracted to the action and dinner on the stage.
The zombie virus is likely to spread.
"We're letting parents and faculty, former students and community members be a guest zombie for the night," Mann said, noting Coffman Principal Mike Ulring might have an undead cameo if he gets a chance to dine on student brains.
Zombies have been spreading through the school through other means as well. Taking a cue from the movie Zombieland, students filmed three zombie kills of the week to advertise for the show.
"They filmed three teachers who each had a zombie student in class," Mann said. "We let the kids run that themselves. They wrote the scripts and got the teachers (involved)."
Coffman's run of Night of the Living Dead will rise at 7 p.m. Jan. 23-25 in the performing arts center of Coffman High School, 6780 Coffman Road.
Tickets are $9 for adults, $6 for students and free for senior citizens.