Actors await living dead production at PHS

Published 12:00 pm Friday, October 16, 2015

Students at Pelham High School are preparing for their production of “Night of the Living Dead” Oct. 29-31. (Reporter photo / Jessa Pease)

Students at Pelham High School are preparing for their production of “Night of the Living Dead” Oct. 29-31. (Reporter photo / Jessa Pease)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— Zombies are coming to Pelham High School close to Halloween, as the theatre department presents “Night of the Living Dead” Oct. 29-31. The twist: Students will perform the show in the school’s parking lot.

When the show starts at 6 p.m., audience members will experience different effects than they’ve ever seen from the Panther performers, including lots of fog and zombies appearing around every corner.

“It’s been a lot of fun. Usually we are a little more of a hardcore drama or a comedy kind of show,” said PHS director Jamie Stephenson. “To do something that is a little more light-hearted, (it’s) not easier, but just very different, funny and enjoyable.”

The story centers around Ben, played by senior Donnell James, who is trying to survive as zombies begin leaving the graveyard in search of “food.” He finds a disparate group of individuals who all take refuge in an abandoned house.

“So far this production has been one of the biggest ones I have ever done,” James said. “I am really pumped about it, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.”

Judy, played by Chyanna Rausch, is one of the individuals Ben encounters at the house. She said she enjoys performing in a show set in a different time period, figuring out the proper costume and hair.

Rausch said she also likes doing a show that relates to so many people.

“I’m excited to work on something that is relevant because a lot of kids in our school are interested in zombies in TV shows and stuff,” she said. “It’s kind of fun to bring it to life.”

For the cast members, rehearsal is just as much fun as the performance will be. Anna Smith, who plays the evil Johnna, laughed stating she’s not a nasty person at all. Smith said Stephenson has helped her get into that character.

“I really enjoy Ms. Stephenson seeing us act and giving us a lot of feedback on what we are supposed to be doing, what we aren’t supposed to be doing and just helping us correct what we need to be corrected on,” she said.

Audri Murray, who plays the radio personality, said her favorite part is seeing the show transform as rehearsals progress. She also loves being the radio personality because she can use her voice to sound as crazy as she wants.

“I’m real excited to see how it’s going to turn out since it’s outside,” she added. “This is our very first one outside so it should be fun.”

Construction is still going on in Pelham’s theatre, and the upgrades will not be complete until April. Not being able to use the stage, Stephenson said she had to get creative when deciding what show to perform.

“I was trying to think of a show that could be outside,” she said.  “Of course, (there’s) Shakespeare in the park, but then I thought we could do it around Halloween, the kids love zombies and I thought this would be a really fun show.”

The cast and crew have been hard at work preparing for opening night Oct. 29. Tickets are $5 and guests may also bring their own seating to the show.

“I think (opening) is always great,” Stephenson said. “You work and work and work and to see that final product is nice.”