Laughs, limbs abound in zombie musical

By Contributing Writer

by: Amanda Murphy, Contributing Writer

Breaking up is difficult, especially when your boyfriend just turned into a zombie and is trying to eat you. What does a person do to deal with such a dilemma? Break into song and dance, of course. “Musical of the Living Dead” is an original musical performed by the Cowardly Scarecrow Theater Company. It’s a “zom com,” or zombie comedy, complete with an original soundtrack, romance, blood, guts and synchronized dancing. The combination works well, despite what expectations you might already have.

The story takes place at a farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania during a zombie apocalypse. Ten strangers are united under one roof and forced to not only deal with living human problems, like a married couple who can’t stand the sight of one another, but also the living dead roaming outside the house. These strangers can either band together to fight the creatures surrounding them or literally tear each other apart.

The cast reflects well on George Romero films it parodies. Many characters refer to ones from “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead.” Ben and Barbara, the hero and heroine, offer an apparent ode to the horror film. Other characters include a pregnant hillbilly, alcoholic housewife and germaphobic news anchor.

The characters might not have much in common, but the actors have chemistry. Many of the actors in the production hail from the same companies, like the critically acclaimed sketch comedy group “The Cupid Players” and all-female theater group “Off Off Broadzway.” The comedy background is apparent in the way the show’s humor is delivered in a smooth and smart manner.

The musical’s soundtrack features a variety of genres including gospel, doo-wop and punk. Its compilation included duets, all-male and all-female jingles and a ballad or two. The lyrics are witty, comical and compliment the story and tunes they support. The music was also played by a live band. Although the band’s sound was sometimes louder than the vocals, the show did not lose the audience’s attention. The soundtrack was delightfully catchy and contributed well to the plot line and characters.

The venue is appropriate for the independent production. Located in Logan Square, The Charnel House is an intimate comfortable spot where audience members were splattered with blood and felt the laughter of the person one seat over. It seems fitting that the venue was formerly a funeral home though the building was recently renovated into an arts center. The eerie and gothic nature of the building adds to the show’s energy.

Imagine a typical zombie film, but add original songs, raunchy humor and choreographed dancing. This combination makes up “Musical of the Living Dead”— the new must-see zombie-themed production in the city.

“Musical of the Living Dead” will run through October every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m at Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton Ave. There will be a special performance on Halloween. The show costs $15 for students. For more information or to buy tickets, visit