From left, lead actor Daniella Atkinson, drama teacher Matt Muirhead and student director Nicholas Rocque.

Sacred Heart adds a new life to Night of the Living Dead

(Photo: From left, lead actor Daniella Atkinson, drama teacher Matt Muirhead and student director Nicholas Rocque.)

If you wanted a story about a zombie apocalypse, you could just watch the Walking Dead. But Sacred Heart’s upcoming school play adds something new to the formula.

Night of the Living Dead, the original ‘60s George Romero classic, is coming to the centre stage of Sacred Heart high school from March 29-31 April 19-21 in a specially adapted version. 

The story follows a group of survivors barricaded inside a house during the apocalypse, with zombies right outside trying to gain entry and eat their brains.

Audiences will get a special treat with the modification of the script that substitutes a female for one of the two main male characters, creating a unique gender dynamic.

“We had some very talented females and there were more male roles that I wanted them to perform,” said drama teacher Matt Muirhead before a rehearsal on Saturday morning.

“It’s becoming cliché to say that it’s 2017 but I like to put female empowerment in the centre stage as well because traditionally roles in these shows are leading males,” he said.

Muirhead also changed the storyline to make it more of a comedy show. “To add some levity to the horrors that will appear on stage.”

The audience should feel more involved in the story, because they’ll be a part of it. The original screenplay treats the seating as the outside of the house, where zombies will meander.

“It’s certainly a way of breaking the fourth wall and keep the audience entertained,” Muirhead said. “This becomes also part of the stage, rather than just where the audience sits.”

Margaret Noble musses up lead actor Daniella Atkinson’s hair ahead of a rehearsal Saturday.
Margaret Noble musses up lead actor Daniella Atkinson’s hair ahead of a rehearsal Saturday.
The set comes together for Night of the Living Dead, which opens on Wednesday.
The set comes together for Night of the Living Dead, which opens on Wednesday.

 

Lead actor Daniella Atkinson plays Beth, the main character who seeks to gain control of the houseful of survivors and keep them safe. Beth has a feud with the main male character, Harry, who is also trying to control the house.

Atkinson has been doing theatre since she was five, when she used to live in the U.K.

“Beth, I absolutely love playing her,” she said earlier this month. She said the modified script adds a new male dominance dynamic which was fun for her to explore as an actor.

Student director Nicholas Rocque said they’ve been behind in getting the production together, with some props still not ready, but everything should be reader for the premiere.

It’s going to be a one-of-a-kind performance, he assured.

“For one, it’s zombies and blood, I don’t think Sacred has really done something like this before,” he said. “We’re really pushing the story, once you walk into the theatre it’s like a different world.”

Night of the Living Dead runs at Sacred Heart high school from April 19-21 and tickets are $5 at the door.  (The show has been rescheduled from the original dates in March.)


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