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Review: Zombie! The Musical at Hayes Theatre Co.

Review: Zombie! The Musical at Hayes Theatre Co.

Review by Lauren Donikian

It’s 1999, everyone is talking about Y2K and a musical called ‘Rent’. Meanwhile a community theatre troupe are rehearsing for their opening night. Whilst they are having casting issues, the world around them is under attack from a Zombie apocalypse. So, what role will this troupe made up of predominantly woman do to save the world and themselves? You’ll have to see Zombie! The Musical to find out. There are no spoilers here!

90’s pop music is playing as you enter the theatre, the forest green curtains are closed, and a pink neon Zombie sign is hanging on the top left corner of the proscenium. Set designer Nick Fry captures the feel of a town hall when the curtains open. With arch windows, a narrow hallway downstage and boring mustard painted walls plastered with musical theatre posters. There are props strewn around haphazardly and a clothes rack full of costumes. There are movable props like Sweeney’s chair, draws and doors that make the space feel larger than it is and creates a playground for the cast to play in. Lighting and Projection designer Verity Hampson creates the 90’s mood with neon lights on the arches, green lighting when the zombies attack and the backlighting of the arch windows maintains the hall feel. 

Director Darren Yap encapsulates the ‘show family’ feel by keeping the ensemble near each other unless they are running into the audience to escape… or make a grand entrance. One of my favourite scenes includes a door with actors either side with muted lighting and a smoky haze. Lyrically the song is beautiful, but it’s also a moment for the show to take pause away from all the craziness. Laura Murphy, writer, and composer cleverly follows the tropes of a Zombie movie, while embracing the camp of musical theatre and includes witty one-liners that if you aren’t a musical theatre nerd will go over your head. The characters she has created are well rounded fully thought-out characters with remarkable differences that somehow fit together to be all that they need. The songs are a blend of genres with pop, and odes to the musicals that they are parodying at the time. Choreographer and assistant director Chiara Assetta embraces the genres with different forms of dance styles like ballet, jazz, and hip hop. She works alongside fight director Tim Dashwood to create these fun scenes that are sometimes played out in slow motion, which makes it even funnier to watch. 

The ensemble is collectively incredible, all have these beautiful rich voices that soar over the music and match each other in beautiful harmony. Natalie Abbott who plays Sam is a delight to watch, her sweet disposition and grounded nature makes you fall for her character as she is the ultimate underdog. Stefanie Jones on the other hand is confident and assertive in her role as Felicity. With unwavering strength and assuredness, she is the perfect “main character”. Tamsin Carroll as Carol brings the heart and soul to this musical with her quiet confidence that whilst tested at times knows no bounds. Her maturity and comedic timing make her a standout. Chelsea Dawson’s energy is infectious and wears a lot of hats during this production. She has a real opportunity to flex that she is indeed a triple threat. Nancy Denis as Trace is bold and unwavering and Monique Sallé is adorable, haunting, and hilarious in the characters she gets to play. Drew Livingston as George is the character we all love to hate and does so gleefully. Ryan Gonzalez who plays Dave stuns with their dance moves, vocal abilities and really leans into their character. You can tell that this ensemble is having a great time and really embracing the absurdity of this musical whilst also creating a safe haven for their characters.

It's safe to say that I left the theatre bubbling with excitement. Singing parts of songs, laughing at the one liners and feeling an overwhelming amount of pride for being a Musical theatre nerd. There were moments of uproarious laughter, heartfelt moments, and a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself. I loved this new Australian musical! Over the years musical theatre has saved me at times, but the real question is. Can it save the world?

Image Supplied


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