Carmel Valley school's ‘Zombie Prom’ pokes fun at ‘50s-era musicals

Instead of hitting the streets this Halloween, zombies are taking the stage at Canyon Crest Academy. For the first time, the Carmel Valley school’s Envision Theatre is presenting the musical “Zombie Prom,” beginning Oct. 24 through Nov. 1 at the Black Box Theatre.

“It’s a very multi-layered show, with fun music and live dancing,” said Envision Theatre Coordinator Jeannine Marquie, who is directing the musical, with guest musical direction by Leigh Scarritt and guest choreography by Max Gidaley. “The talent is spectacular. We have some highly accomplished performers, so it will definitely not disappoint.”

Written by John Dempsey and Dana Rowe, the girl-loves-ghoul Off-Broadway musical is set in the 1950s at Enrico Fermi High. Although teen Jonny Warner is “transformed” when he encounters the local atomic waste dump, he still dreams of going to the senior prom.

“This is one of the most fun shows I’ve done since I’ve been here,” said Canyon Crest Academy junior Kion Heidari, who portrays Jonny Warner.

Like most of his fellow cast members, Kion was unfamiliar with “Zombie Prom” until Marquie introduced it to them.

“It’s not the most famous of shows, but once I started looking into it, I discovered how cleverly written it was,” Kion said. “It’s one of my favorite musicals now.”

As the new theater coordinator of Envision, Marquie looked for plays and musicals that would challenge her students. That’s why she decided to open the season with “Zombie Prom.”

“I wanted something that hadn’t been done here and that they hadn’t even heard of before, so they could experience working on something new,” said Marquie, who first joined Canyon Crest Academy as a theater teacher in 2007, and later relocated to Orange County, where she worked at San Clemente High School and Irvine Valley College. She rejoined the Carmel Valley school this year.

Although its Marquie’s 18th year as a teacher, it’s her first time working with the musical. After learning about the Off-Broadway show from friends, she purchased the album and “fell in love with it immediately.”

“It’s goofy, and kitschy and fun,” Marquie said. “People don’t know how rich and wonderful it is as a musical.”

With a selection of original ’50s-style songs, Canyon Crest Academy senior Julian Coker, who has several roles in the show, said the musical “provides lighthearted fun.”

“It’s hilarious,” Julian said. “It does a great job at poking fun at the ‘Grease’ and ‘Hairspray’ era of musicals.”

Having ended last season with Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and “Les Misérables,” Canyon Crest Academy senior Emmy Farese agreed that “Zombie Prom” is a great way to kick off the season.

“It’s so upbeat and fun, and a nice change compared to all the dramatic pieces we’ve done in our recent past,” added Emmy, who plays Ginger. “We really needed something upbeat.”

With the show just a few weeks away, the 18-member cast is rehearsing most nights. Rehearsals, which began Sept. 11, are not only a time for the students to prepare for the show, but also a time to bond and get to know their new theater coordinator.

“She has a lot of really great ideas,” Kion said. “She takes a lot of input from the cast and makes it a lot of fun.”

“We’re all super close already, and it’s so much fun,” added Emmy.

The public can see “Zombie Prom” Oct. 24-25, 30-31 and Nov. 1 at Canyon Crest Academy’s Black Box Theater, at 5951 Village Center Loop Road in Carmel Valley.

Tickets cost $6-$8 for students and $13-$15 for adults.

“We’re trying to make this show as professional as possible for a high school production,” Emmy said. “It’s really coming along very well, because we have such professional people who have so much experience teaching us. It’s not just going to be some high school show. It’s definitely a lot more than that. We have such a talented cast and crew who work together really well.”

Tickets are available at https://www.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?t=tix&e=b19824d0ce4c0db0f5798d33e7f6fb15.

For information about Envision at Canyon Crest Academy, visit www.cca-envision.org.

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