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Zombies take the stage at Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 November 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Emma Wadhams portrays the zombie version of Princess Leia in Star Wars. She is trying to reach across a closed door to get at the humans.

Emily Shabazz, right, plays a zombie that looks like Whitney Houston. In this scene Riley Seielstad (left) is a Michael Jackson zombie, leading the group in a dance.

ALBION – Gary Simboli is willing to try shows that are a little edgier in what he said is the twilight of his career as director of Albion High School musicals.

Simboli still has five years before he retires. But he wants to try some shows that are a little different. He found one with “Night of the Living Dead! The Musical.”

Students have makeup with lots of bruises and blood. The zombies resemble celebrities, including Michael Jackson, Liza Minnelli, Lady Gaga, Tina Turner and many others.

Three zombies were captured by humans. The zombies include from left: Riley Seielstad as Michael Jackson, Madeline Fournier as Liza Minnelli and Hailey Bader as Tina Turner.

“This is definitely different,” said sophomore Shannon Broda who played a zombie that looked like Gilligan from Gilligan’s Island. “Normally I play a really innocent character but this one is evil.”

She played a good witch in last spring’s production of “The Wiz.”

Albion High School’s drama program performed the show on Friday and will have two more shows today at noon and 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.

Elijah VanEpps plays a human, Tom, and sings “No Wussies Allowed.” He tries to summon courage in the humans to go fight the zombies outside their house.

Simboli promises the show “will be a bloody good time.” The musical is relatively new. It came out in 2012 and features dead celebrities, rising from the grave with a hunger for human flesh. The human characters find ways to ward off the zombies.

David Stilwell, a senior, plays an executive named Harry. Stilwell appears as a balding character with a belly. He fights off zombies with a cane.

“The more edge the better,” he said before the show on Friday. “It’s nice to bring something new to Albion. This is the most unique show we’ve done.”

Cheyanna Rain Eagle plays Judy and David Stilwell is her husband Harry. They sing “Libertarians in Love” while zombies Shannon Broda (Gilligan) and Charlyne Olick (Mozart) try to get inside the house.

The drama program brought in two makeup specialists from New York City, including Albion native Kailey Winans. She and Erica Wiederlight worked with the cast and crew on their makeup. Even Simboli appears bloodied as a zombie.

When the characters lined up in makeup and costumes for a sound check on Friday, Simboli was pleased with his choice for the musical. He doesn’t think the zombies look too scary.

“I think they look fantastic,” he said. “When they were all up there on stage, I couldn’t stop smiling.”

The cast gathered on stage for a photo by Bruce Landis before Friday’s show.

The show has some adult humor involving entertainment law and other high-browed themes. Mix that in with zombies of Michael Jackson in his Thriller outfit, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and a member of the Rat Pack.

“We hope that people are ready to be delightfully scared,” Simboli said.

Tickets are available at the door for the performances at the Middle School Auditorium, 254 East Ave.

Riley Seielstad as Michael Jackson is on the move as a zombie. The show utilizes strobe lights and fog machines.