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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Zombie! The Musical, at Hayes Theatre - 2 hours 10 minutes, including a 20-minute interval

It is 1999 and the clock is ticking down to the opening of a new production for a community theatre company.

 

The pompous, misogynistic director fawns over the only paid member of the troupe, the leading man … and derides everyone else.

 

The leading lady longs for a different role.

 

An understudy who sees the good in everyone can’t see herself stepping up.

 

A veteran actress still yearns for the limelight.

 

And then, horror of horrors, with just four hours until the curtain is due to rise, the key “talent” pulls out, having landed a gig in a professional musical.

 

With the Y2K bug about to strike, what to do?

 

The director is beside himself, but things are about to take a turn for the worse as a zombie apocalypse descends upon the small theatre.

Photos by John McRae


No-one is safe. One after another, the bite is put on each member of the company … and yet the show must go on.

 

What, if anything, can turn the tide? Even scientists are at a loss.

 

Is musical theatre the unlikely answer? Let’s suck on a Fisherman’s Friends lozenge and ponder that.

 

This zany, spirited, hilarious show is the brainchild of writer and composer Laura Murphy, whose star is shining brightly.

It is a tribute to the tropes of musical theatre and cult-classic zombie films, as each member of the troupe confronts their inner demons.

 

I couldn’t praise the result more highly. The musical numbers are instantly catchy and ear pleasing. The script is off the wall, but relatable.

 

As exaggeration abounds, the performances are mighty, led by the mellifluous, full throated vocals of Stefanie Jones.

 

There is not a weak link among the nine strong cast, who individually and collectively sing up a storm.

 

Drew Livingstone’s affectations as the theatre director from hell is worthy of special mention.

 

Natalie Abbott is superb as the perpetual understudy Sam, while Tamsin Carroll revels in her role as ageing diva Carol.

Ryan Gonzalez is head turning as a zombie, while Monique Salle adds spark in multiple roles.

 

Nancy Denis channels a kick butt action hero and Chelsea Dawson is doting as lead actor Dave’s (Gonzalez) devoted girlfriend.

 

Adam Di Martino makes his presence felt as feted theatre critic Nathan Arnsley.

 

Laura Murphy has thrown the kitchen sink at this one, with liberal references to other musicals throughout, delighting an appreciative audience, who roar their approval.

 

The set and props (the set designer is Nick Fry) give Zombie! The Musical an intimate, community theatre feel, in which everyone is expected to pitch in.

 

A series of posters on the wall referencing some of the all-time great musicals goes down a treat.

 

Costuming from Esther Zhong and wig, hair and make-up from Hayden Tee add authenticity.

The sound design by David Grigg and lighting and projection from Verity Hampson draw us even closer to the action.

 

Skilfully choreographed by Chiara Assetta, director Darren Yap and musical director Damon Wade have knocked it out of the park.

 

A single visit to Zombie! The Musical isn’t anywhere near enough for, make no mistake, this is one glorious, energetic and electrifying hoot.

 

It is playing at Hayes Theatre until 6th April, 2024.

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