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Fort High staging ‘zombie’ play

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Fort High students aren’t afraid of the walking dead.

In fact, they’re going to share “10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse” as they present Don Zolidis’ comedy at the Townshend Theatre tomorrow through Saturday.

Teacher Tracy Rob, who is assisting with the production, noted the annual fall play is being held almost a month earlier than usual.

“Numbers were really low for attendance last year,” she said, referring to the modern re-telling of “Alice in Wonderland” that was staged.

Rob surmised some of the reasons for the low attendance could have been due to “Black Friday” shopping, hockey tournaments, and early Christmas parties.

“For the work the students put in, and how fantastic a show they put on, we’re hoping we could try to time it to get them a better audience,” Rob reasoned.

“We just felt they weren’t getting the size of audience they were deserving.

“So we chose to put the pressure on the students to produce it faster in order to present it at a time where we weren’t competing with as many events going on,” she said.

And taking on a “zombie”-themed play was perfect for a show being staged just before Hallowe’en.

“We’re hoping that given it is a Hallowe’en-themed comedy, just before Hallowe’en, will get a lot of attention from people looking to get into the spirit,” Rob remarked.

The timing of the show also allowed for the students to stock up on plenty of “gory” props with all of the Hallowe’en stock for sale.

“They’ve picked up plastic limbs from the Dollar Store and during scenes they come flying out,” Rob chuckled.

But she stressed despite a bit of blood, guts, and gore, the play is family-friendly overall.

“There’s no really direct violence, no inappropriate language,” she remarked. “It’s a pretty clean show.”

Rob said the production is run in 10 separate segments—showcasing the 10 ways to survive the zombie apocalypse.

“We have two doomsday prepper narrators that walk the audience through 10 methods to survive,” she explained. “Then the remainder of the cast acts out the methods the narrators come up with.

“The zombies attack. They do their best to survive but it doesn’t always work out,” she admitted.

“There’s a lot of physical humour, there’s a little sarcasm in it.”

Rob indicated the 15-member cast, plus those students helping with costumes and props, have been having a lot of fun with the comedy.

“They’re using the costumes, props, and finding ways to make it even more hilarious,” she said.

“Every time we have a rehearsal, they come up with something new.

“Watching them practice, we’re crying in the audience because we’re laughing so hard,” Rob added.

“It’s a hilarious show.”

Rob added the students really have made the show their own.

“They’ve taken on their characters, they’ve modified it, they’ve owned the production,” she lauded, noting most aspects of the play have been student-led from makeup and props to costumes and set design.

“They have really taken on the responsibility for the show themselves,” she noted.

“They’ve been painting sets, working with each other to get what they need.”

Rob said they’ve even added some surprising elements into the show. For instance, one of the methods includes “genetically-modified zombie dogs”—and they’ve brought in real dogs and trained them for the show.

Another method focuses on using Kung Fu, so they’ve added in choreography to Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting” song and they even added in a “Thriller” scene, as well.

Rob noted they also had to modify the characters because the play featured two male and two female actors in each scene.

“We do not have the males to do that—we only have two males acting—so they’ve modified the roles and taken on different characters,” she explained, saying that having the show divided into the 10 different segments allowed for some flexibility in that regard.

“We didn’t have to maintain the same characters and everybody gets to have their starring moment throughout,” she remarked.

The production features students from Grades 9-12 and anyone who was interested in taking part was welcome.

No previous experience was required.

“We have returning students, outgoing senior students, fresh Grade 9s,” noted Rob, adding they also have multiple people out to help with tech and behind the scenes.

“It’s so great to see everyone working together.”

The narrators of the show are veterans to the stage: Robyn French and Mackenzie Wright.

“There’s never a dull moment,” Wright enthused. “There’s a continuation of high-energy scenes.”

“We break the fourth wall,” said French, using a stage term to indicate there is a lot of really great interactions with the audience.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to take their families out, especially to celebrate the Hallowe’en season, but in the comfort of the warm theatre instead of the cold outdoors,” noted Wright.

The show also runs only about an hour long, so Rob said it does allow families to bring their children and still get them home at a reasonable time.

Show time is 7:30 p.m. each night, with doors opening at 7 p.m.

Tickets, which can be purchased in advance at Northwoods Gallery & Gifts, cost $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.

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