If the phrase "Night of the Living Dead meets Hairspray" makes you cringe, then I'd advise you to stop reading this review right now—there's nothing for you here. If, however, you can process a bit of cheese without your entire system grinding to a halt, then you'd do well to hustle on over to Teatre's high-energy production of Zombie Prom, which is one of the better-executed pieces of camp I've seen recently. In brief: tons of fun, if you're into that sort of thing.
The students at Enrico Fermi High are a fresh-faced, boisterous bunch, and though they live in the shadow of a nuclear plant, they seem untroubled by any possibility of disaster—their education includes fun-filled classes like "Cooking for the Fallout Shelter." When new kid Jonny shows up, it's love at first sight between the young, dashing rebel and pretty, good-girl Toffee (the likeable Emily Kelly). Their uptight principal Delilah Strict (played with admirable restraint by Kam Sisco, who spares us an excess of queeniness) is vehemently opposed to the coupling, as are Toffee's family and friends. When Toffee caves to pressure and ends things with Jonny, he's so distraught that he promptly commits suicide by crashing his bike into the nuclear power plant, in a hilariously overblown scene that conflates teen heartbreak with a nuclear catastrophe. Jonny returns weeks later as a zombie—dead, but with both his rebelliousness and love for Toffee still fully intact.
There's lots of family-friendly innuendo here, and a few surprisingly clever quips, all played with exuberance by the dexterous ensemble. (I was particularly jealous of the ladies in the cast, as their costuming is fantastic, iconically retro without conceding too much to kitsch.)
When I saw the show there were some serious issues with sound, ranging from too loud for the intimate Theatre Noir space, to so quiet or muddled during some songs that large chunks of lyrics were lost. Otherwise, though, it's a sweet little show, a sort of Rocky Horror-lite—and you get a couple bucks off the admission price if you wear prom attire. If, like I said, you're into that sort of thing.