By Mary Boyle
When you hear the word "zombies," you're likely to associate it with the popular show, Walking Dead, or perhaps some of the more recent films in the genre: World War Z, Zombieland, or Shaun of the Dead. Thankfully, Zombies from the Beyond at the Skylight Music Theatre isn't like any of those shows. In fact, if I were to sum it up in one sentence, I'd say it was Grease meets Rocky Horror Picture Show, with a bit of Hairspray thrown in for good measure; set it in Milwaukee, and you've got a musical that can't be beat!
Milwaukee native, James Valcq, grew up on the Skylight stage, performing, arranging, and conducting. Zombies was Valcq's first full-length musical, which opened off Broadway in 1995 to critical acclaim. He went on to collaborate with Fred Alley on The Passage and Spitfire Grill, which is one of the most frequently performed contemporary musicals, and he composed the music for Anatole, which premiered at First Stage in Milwaukee in 2014. In recent years, Valcq has returned to the stage, and has been seen with First Stage, The Rep, and Door Shakespeare. He is currently the co-Artistic Director of Third Avenue Playhouse in Sturgeon Bay.
Set in Milwaukee at the fictional Milwaukee Space Center, Zombies pokes fun at the Cold War and Space Race fears of the 1950's that helped bring on the Golden Age of Sci-Fi films. Major Malone (Norman Moses) oversees the Space Center, along with his right-hand-man, Rick Jones (Rick Pendzich), who happens to have his eye on the Major's daughter, Mary Malone (Kathryn Hausman). When rocket scientist Trenton Corbett (Matt Frye) arrives at the station, he threatens Jones's place with Mary. Meanwhile, secretary Charlene "Charlie" Osmanski (Meghan Randolph) can't seem to get a date at all, though she's adored by the delivery boy, Billy Krutzik (Joe Kapstick). When the team launches a rocket equipped with a camera to take photos of the sun, they make a startling discovery: a flying saucer headed straight for Milwaukee! The saucer contains none other than Zombina (SaraLynn Evenson), an alien who uses her voice to zombify men. Along with her entourage, the Zombettes, she plans to enslave earth men to bring home and repopulate her planet. Will she succeed?
Directed by Pam Kriger, who co-directed the show with Valcq in 1986 at Skylight, Zombies is just good, campy fun. Anyone from the Milwaukee area will appreciate Valcq's homage to his hometown, which is lovingly rendered by Scenic Designer, Aaron Dyszelski. The original role of Zombina was written for Valcq's sister, a gifted coloratura soprano, but SaraLynn Evenson, who makes her Skylight debut, does the hypnotic voice justice, while pulling off the vampy qualities needed of an alien female bent on male domination. Also making their Skylight debut are Joe Kapstick, who impresses with his tap dancing "atomic feet," Matt Frye, and Meghan Randolph. Milwaukee favorites returning to Skylight are Rick Pendzich, who is hysterical as Rick Jones; Kathryn Hausman's, whose deadpan delivery is brilliant; and, Norman Moses, who reminds me of Leslie Nielson in Airplane. Altogether, a strong cast and another brilliant production at Skylight.
Zombies from the Beyond runs through February 18th in the Cabot Theatre, Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee. Tickets are $30 - $75 (plus tax and fees) and can be purchased in person at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway, or by calling (414) 291-7800. Box Office hours are Monday – Saturday, noon - 6 p.m. The Box Office window is also open two hours prior to each performance. Tickets may be purchased online at www.skylightmusictheatre.org.
Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more by calling (414) 299-4964 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Skylight Insights. In-depth discussions with directors and special guests take place one hour before every Wednesday and Sunday performance.
Friday, February 16.
Zombies from The Beyond will be interpreted in American Sign Language on Friday, February 16, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. To purchase tickets for this performance, call Skylight Music Theatre's Box Office at (414) 291-7800 and mention the ASL performance for seating in the appropriate section.
Thursday, February 15 at 6 p.m.
A preshow celebration for LGBTQ members and supporters. Tickets include pre-show appetizers and talk by Michael Johnston. Limited availability. Call Skylight Music Theatre's Box Office at (414) 291-7800.
Cabarets Follow Select Zombies Performances
Skylight Music Theatre Artistic Director Jivoff also announced that cabarets at Skylight Music Theatre’s Bar & Bistro will take place immediately following performances of Zombies from The Beyond on Friday, February 9 and Saturday, February 10 at 10 p.m., with an additional show on Monday, February 12 at 7:30 p.m.
The cabaret features Shawn Holmes and Ben Tajnai, two powerful singers covering a full range of singing styles from gospel to rock to Broadway to rhythm and blues, with accompanist David Bonofiglio. Holmes was featured in Skylight’s Hot Mikado (2017) and seen as Jacob in La Cage aux Folles (2016). Tajnai made his Skylight debut last season as Beadle in Sweeney Todd (2016).
Admission is $10 at the door for all cabarets. Cash and credit card accepted. Cabaret performances are in the Skylight Bar & Bistro, second floor of the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee. Cash bar available at all performances.
For more information visit www.skylightmusictheatre.org, email email@example.com or call the Box Office at (414) 291-7800.