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August 16, 2011

FringeNYC report: Day 5—“Zombie Wedding”

by NGluckstern
fringenyc fringe festival new york city zombie wedding musical

Photo: Dixie Sheridan

Does this wedding dress make my butt look dead? OK, that’s not actually a line from Daniel Sturman and R.C. Staab’s rock musical Zombie Wedding at Venue 9, The Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa, but I feel like it could have been. Vampires and werewolves might be monopolizing the spotlight right now because of Twilight and True Blood, but zombies have been enjoying steady popularity since Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide hit bookshelves in 2003, making Zombie Wedding part of an abiding dynasty.

The show opens with our presumptive hero, Neil (Ryan Nearoff) receiving a packet of mysterious powder from a Haitian witch doctor (Tom Lyons) to take with him to the states, as a potential curative for Zombification, which is spreading rapidly through the jungle. Too bad it’s not a love potion, since Neil’s most immediate dilemma is that the woman of his dreams, Cat (Alison Lea Bender), is marrying a dickish Datsun salesman, Keith (Wes Hart) instead of him. Rounding out the able cast are Cat’s annoying teen brother Pat (Wesley Tunison) and her best gal pal, Deb (Sarah Aili) a pouffy-haired, dead ringer for Madonna’s Susan Thomas persona. (For unexplained reasons, the show is set in the 80’s. Perhaps to make it more rad?)

Much undead hilarity ensues as Keith, the jerky, womanizing groom-to-be gets mauled in a fern bar by a trim, blonde zombie. After a moral struggle, Neil decides that only he can help make Cat’s dream wedding come true by making sure Keith’s new zombie persona is able to attend, with the help of his mysterious voodoo powder. Overall the musical is a fun mashup of Sixteen Candles, Shaun of the Dead, and The Wedding Singer with minimal set (Xiaopo Wang), nifty lighting (K.J. Hardy), solid musical direction (Michael Sansonia) and vocal talents, which ranged variously from good to great. Keith’s ode to his favorite toy “Car Drives the Man,” a humorous ensemble piece set in the mall “Boy, He Will Surprise You,” and a bittersweet ode to the wild side sung by Deb “I Never” were particularly memorable. The show might not make you want to run right out and find a nice zombie of your own to love, but fortunately it does provide a roadmap of what your options are should one unexpectedly take a liking to you.

—Nicole Gluckstern

Follow along with Nicole on her odyssey through the Fringe on Twitter @enkohl!

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