Two siblings are relaxing in an old farmhouse. Unbeknownst to them, almost-human monsters driven to eat flesh are trying to break into the house. Horror fans will no doubt recognize this scene from “Night of the Living Dead.”
This weekend, Walters State’s Theatre Department delivers a live version of the horror classic with a few twists that will make even the most hardcore horror fans jump in their seats.
“Our production is different, but we have stayed true to the original script written by John Russo and George Romero. We have taken a different approach in the actual performance,” said TJ Kent, instructor of theatre at Walters State.
The play incorporates integrated media and will even feature a live newscast delivered through a television on stage.
Kent said when Romero produced the low-budget film, he probably had no idea of the financial success and cult status to come.
“What makes zombie stories resonate so much with us? As far as we know, we’re the only species on Earth than can cognize our own demise. We realize how delicate it all is, and it terrifies us. It’s a good thing the dead aren’t rising,” Kent said.
The cast includes a mix of relatively new actors and some stage veterans.
Santana Wright of Sevierville is in her first lead role. She is a musical theatre major who also appeared in the college’s spring production of “The Crucible.”
Tyler Thompson of Morristown plays “Ben.” His theatrical credits include “James and the Giant Peach” and the title role of “Aladin.”
Andrew Allen, Ashley Kelley, Micah Keck, Leah Winstead and Logan McGinnis are also on stage through most of the play.
The zombie cast includes Katherine Lewis, Crista Mahan, Tasha Moody, Tanasi Rice, David Schaar, Lucas Townsend, Chezney West, Lindsey Adams, Brenda Ciccone, Allison Cross, Kelsey Cross, Jeremiah Fleming, Caitlin Goolsby, Kaitlyn Hackney and Tricia Howe.
The zombies couldn’t come to life without the amazing talent of Caitlin Carrington of Cosby. She spends at least an hour before each show doing detailed makeup. Carrington plans to move to California to attend a school for stage makeup and pursue this as a career.
As a nod to the current popularity of zombies in entertainment, auditions for those parts drew over 50 people.
“We could not use everyone because of schedule conflicts, but I’ve tried to use as many as possible,” Kent said.
The play is in the theatre of the Judge William H. Inman Humanities Complex on the college’s Morristown campus. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 4-5 and 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 30 and Nov. 6. Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for seniors and $5 for students.
For reservations, call 423-585-6922 between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets will also be on sale an hour before showtime.
In the picture: Walters State will present “Night of the Living Dead” as its fall production.