They’re coming to get you, Barbara: Night of The Living Dead the Musical


Jacob Barker

The cast of Night of the Living Dead at a rehearsal Nov. 1.

Editor’s note: This article incorrectly stated the tickets for the play were $20 and that the authors of the play contacted ISU Threate. It has since been updated to state the cost is free to students and $25 for the public.

Fisher Theater has a case of the undead, and they are vibrant and alive with the sound of music.

A live-action production musical of a classical film — “Night of the Living Dead” — will play at 7:30 p.m produced by ISU Theatre. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Fisher Theater. The original movie was produced and directed by George A. Romero, the grandfather of the zombie genre.

Tickets to see the musical are $25 for the public and free for students.

“The play is based on the original horror movie and produced by a screenwriter in New York in 2019,” said Mary Jo DuPrey, the LAS dean’s artist in residences. “They originally wanted to put it into production off-Broadway until the pandemic hit. They contacted us in 2021 to get the play up and running again, which was a significant milestone for the theater, and many students jumped at the chance to play our main cast.”

The original movie follows a group of survivors boarded up in a house while trying to survive a night of invading ravenous zombies seeking human flesh. Their only source of information is television and radio broadcasts that hint at how the dead have risen.

The film later released two sequels, “Dawn of The Dead” and “Day of The Dead,” in two decades.

The musical version sticks to many major plot points of the movie and expands upon the original lore of the film. For example, the infamous line “They’re coming to get you, Barbara,” will still be included and will even be featured as a musical number.

However, the musical version will still offer nuances to the original tale.

“We went with a mix of the original movie and ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’” Brandon Schumann, a junior studying performing arts and Ben’s actor, said. “We wanted to do something different so families can come together and enjoy a fun night.”

One of the biggest differences between the movie and the musical that audiences may notice is the characteristics and personalities of the main cast of characters.

Tom and Judy, a 50s-style American teen couple, are now a pair of teenage hippies. Tom, a bitter man, doing what he can to keep his family alive, is now presented as a bumbling Archie Bunker-style individual.

“I think the biggest change is my character, Barbara,” Taylor Noe, a junior studying graphic design and Barbara’s actress, said. “In the movie, Judy is mute because of her brother’s death and the zombies. In the musical, we’ve made her have a more prominent role instead of just screaming, and [she has] more interactions with the rest of the cast.”

The play is an homage to Romera, who died in 2017 due to lung cancer. For fans of the original movie, the musical production is a nice little treat for lovers of zombies.

“Our design team, production, actors, costume designers–all of this wouldn’t be possible if it were not for all of their hard work and effort,” Duprey said. “We have put everything into this play as an homage and event for our students and faculty.”

For more information, visit the Iowa State Department of Music and Theatre website.