NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD LIVE adapted by Christopher Bond, Dale Boyer and Tre vor Martin from the original screenplay, directed by Bond, with Darryl Hinds, Mike “Nug” Nahrgang, Boyer, Martin, Gwynne Phillips and Andrew Fleming. Presented by Nictophobia Films at Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson). In previews, opens tomorrow (Friday, April 26), and runs to May 19, Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday 7:30 pm (May 19 at 2 pm), Friday-Saturday 7 and 11 pm. $29.50-$59.50. 416-504-7529, nightofthelivingdeadlive.com. See listing.
Brace yourself for another zombie invasion!
Members of the cast and production team behind Evil Dead: The Musical, are digging up another horror classic, Night Of The Living Dead, for the stage. But unlike Evil Dead - which was injected with original show tunes and turned into a campy romp - Night Of The Living Dead Live will be a much more faithful rendering of the controversial 1968 flick.
? "It's a lot of us returning from Evil Dead: The Musical, but this show is very different," says local comedian Mike "Nug" Nahrgang, who played Jake in the Toronto edition of Evil Dead and plays Harry, the unlikeable foil for hero Ben, in NOTLD, which focuses on a group of townsfolk trapped in a farmhouse as hordes of undead close in.
"This time it's actually not a musical at all; it's as close to a staged version of the original film as we could get. And in that spirit, the entire set and all the costumes and makeup are all done in black-and-white, so it will feel like you're in a black-and-white movie set in 1968."
Just like the Evil Dead musical, which had the blessing of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, this production boasts strong ties to the original film. Writer/director George A. Romero, producer Russell Streiner, and writer/editor John A. Russo have all signed on as executive producers, and Romero will be on hand for a post-show Q&A on May 3 and 4. Also in the vein of Evil Dead: The Musical's famous "Splatter Zone" - a section of seats where audience members could get a collateral splash of fake blood - NOTLDL will feature what's being billed as the Moan Zone.
"It's a section of seats where people from the Toronto Zombie Walk will dress up as zombies and then have this part in the show," says Nahrgang. "Every now and then the lights will come up on them and they'll play the part of the looming threat of all the zombies outside the door."
Nahrgang, who's seen the film version more times than he can count since first renting it as a teenager, says there are lots of risks in going from screen to stage.
"Horror movies are known for their crazy special effects, and you want to bring those effects to the stage, but they're kind of unpredictable. In film, if an effect doesn't go as planned, you just cut the camera, reset and try again. But in our show you've only got one shot. When we did Evil Dead, some nights things just screwed up. But as an improv guy, I can roll with whatever happens.
"Also, in film you have the benefit of the camera, which is always pointing at the thing you're supposed to be looking at. But in this show there will be literally a hundred sets of eyes in the audience watching that punch you're throwing from slightly different angles."
While Nahrgang is confident the show will entertain genre nerds and newcomers alike, he hints that hardcore fans of the Night Of The Living Dead franchise should keep their eyes peeled.
"There definitely are some Easter eggs in this show."