Halfway to “Zombie Prom”

By Owen Bertram

Youngstown State University Theatre is preparing for its 2023-24 season with its first musical “Zombie Prom,” which is scheduled to open Oct. 6. 

Director Adam Day Howard said the choice of the musical was easy.

“We wanted to do a Halloween musical … and ‘Zombie Prom’ ticked all the boxes. It’s funny [and] it’s my favorite era, which is the 1950s,” Howard said. “It plays to all of our strengths and we thought of tons of fun things to do to promote it.”

Howard said a zombie walk will take place Oct. 2 on campus to promote the show.

Auditions are conducted for every University Theatre production. Howard said what he looks for in a cast is a combination of talent and the ability to take on the challenges of role.

“It’s not a star-driven show … it’s about the entire ensemble understanding a really high style … We are focused on B-horror movie acting and the 1950s propaganda films … the stakes are very high,” Howard said.

“Zombie Prom” is halfway through the rehearsal process. Howard said time management, discipline and attention to health are important aspects for being involved in a production.

“We’re rehearsing probably 30 hours a week right now … as we get closer to the production in a few weeks, it will be more than that,” Howard said.

The cast of the musical is primarily comprised of YSU theatre and musical theatre students. Brooke May, a freshman musical theatre major, was cast as Toffee.

“Toffee is the definition of a good girl. [She] gets straight A’s. She falls in love with Jonny, who is a good kid, but from the outside seems a little rugged. Her parents and principal don’t like that, so they make her break up with him. He responds by throwing himself into the town’s nuclear power plant — as you do and he comes back as a zombie, who only wants to take his girlfriend to prom,” May said.

May said there’s also a message in the musical.

“This show really kind of captures — in a lot of different ways — learning to be yourself and accept yourself, even when the world is telling you [that] you shouldn’t,” May said.

Musical theatre freshman, Nicholas Altwood, was cast in the show as Joey. Altwood said being part of University Theatre is an enjoyable and fun experience. 

“It’s just a great experience. You make great friends, meet new people [and] gain new skills,” Altwood said.

University Theatre will also put on “Scapin,” a comedy written by French playwright Moliere, as well as the spring productions “The Robot Play/It’s A Small World” and “Once Upon A Mattress.”

University Theatre’s box office is located on the first floor of Bliss Hall. It will be open one hour before each show to purchase tickets, which can also be purchased online.

YSU faculty and staff can purchase tickets for a reduced price, and all students get tickets for free. For more information, check out the University Theatre website