Undead boy livens up conventional love story
Hilliard Davidson High School's spring musical is a zombified take on traditional love stories.
But Zombie Prom, with performances scheduled April 12-14, is far from traditional fodder for high school stages.
"We've done some traditional things lately and I wanted something that was fun from beginning to end," said Trace Crawford, drama director at Hilliard Davidson High School.
"Fun" does not begin to describe the role of Jonny Warner, said lead actor Logan Solana, a Davidson senior.
"It's an absolute blast, I've never had this much fun with a character," Solana said.
The Davidson drama department contracted for special makeup for the production. It takes about 30 minutes to transform Solana into a zombie.
In spite of the zombie theme, Zombie Prom is really a love story at the basic level, Crawford said, treading the familiar adolescent experience of adults who not approve of the romance between Jonny and Toffee, the lead female character.
Abbey Bumbledare, a junior at Davidson, plays the role of Toffee, a character she likens to the familiar role of Sandy in Grease.
"She's the good girl until she meets Jonny," she said.
The plot has hints of a Romeo and Juliet story, but instead of drinking poison, the heartbroken teenage boy meets his end by leaping into a cooling tower at the unstable Francis Gary Powers nuclear power plant.
The plant's name is borrowed from the American pilot whose spy plane was shot down in 1960 above the Soviet Union. Several elements in the play use historical and cultural references to the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Toffee's grief and continuing love for Jonny combine to resurrect the boy and the couple reunites to attend the prom at Enrico Fermi High School. Yes, that Enrico Fermi.
The principal at the high school, Mrs. Strict, encouraged Toffee to break up with Jonny, who Strict perceives as a troublemaker.
"Even though he disobeys some rules, he's not a bad character," Solana said.
The many and various rules are humorously explained in legal terms, as supporting characters quote subsections and articles in the student handbook regulating dress and vocabulary, and of course, prohibiting zombies on school property.
Bumbledare said Zombie Prom is challenging because of the number of songs in the musical.
Bumbledare is also a member of drama club, senior choir and National Honor Society, and plans to major in musical theater at a college or university.
She has performed outside Davidson's productions through the Pleasure Guild and the Little Theatre Off Broadway in Grove City.
Supporting characters in Zombie Prom include senior Allison Ackerman as the high school principal, Delilah Strict, and senior Sam McTurner, as Eddie, a reporter for the high school newspaper that seeks an expose on a rumor that Toffee and Jonny will attend the prom.
Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 14, at the high school's performing arts center, 5100 Davidson Road.
Tickets are $10 for reserved seating Friday and Saturday and $5 for general admission on Sunday.