Burbank High Drama Brings “Night of the Living Dead” to Life

Photo By Ross A. Benson
Photos By Ross A. Benson

Last weekend, the Burbank High Drama Department stirred up a of lively brew of pre-Halloween horror with Lori Allen Ohm’s stage adaptation of George Romero’s classic 1968 zombie flick, Night of the Living Dead(NOLD).  And in view of the superb performances that would have done credit to a college-level drama department, the delighted audience also witnessed a “night of the young professionals”.

You knew you were in for a memorable evening when 

the Burbank High Dance Team unleashed their amazing moves in the pre-show under the stars, under the direction of Choreographer ESTEE CARRIZOSA. And when NOLD began, you immediately fell under the spell cast by the spooky set, mood-capturing lighting and spine-chilling live music by (of course) THE LIVING DEAD TRIO. 

In the world of NOLD, mass murder has suddenly descended on the East Coast, as reanimatedcorpses roam the streets and rip their way through the terrified living, turning them into zombies as well. Maybe radioactive fallout from a space probe is to blame, but there are more urgent things to think about.  Two survivors have managed to barricade themselves in a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse, and then find that a family has been hiding in the basement.  All of them soon learn that, in the grip of terror, the living can be as deadly as the undead.

The ACTORS are brilliant throughout, with almost all of them members of the ROP Professional Acting Class. They fully evoked the growing dread of those trapped in a living nightmare. But under BROOKS and ANN GARDNER’s masterful direction, the audience was also laughing at the macabre humor one moment and then choking down a startled gasp the next.

A particularly nice touch was the ZOMBIE ENSEMBLE, who shambled down the aisles as well as across the stage. How did they manage to do such a good job of holding their expression and maintaining a consistent lurch? Were they thinking of their least favorite class?

NOLD continues to be a compelling metaphor for old evils, the ones we thought we had buried long ago, suddenly coming to back to life. Last weekend, the CAST and CREW continued to demonstrate that Burbank’s high school drama departments know how to deliver compelling entertainment.