‘Night of the Living Dead’ will frighten all on Halloween

Leonardo Montañez , Staff Reporter

From costumes to acting, the El Paso Playhouse got everything right in the stage performance of “Night of Living Dead,” based on the classic movie directed by George A. Romero.

The playhouse version, directed by Moy Hinojos, outclassed many productions thanks to its different setting, tone, themes and the great professionalism behind it, with little-to-no technical problems.

Based on the classic 1968 zombie film, this version of “Night of the Living Dead” takes place in 1990 on the outskirts of San Diego. The story follows a group of people who are trapped inside a house in a cemetery after a zombie outbreak begins—and stays true to its source material.

The El Paso Playhouse added an interactive touch to the show with zombies coming from all directions. It was like watching the movie all over again, but on a stage with live performances; that made it even better.

The play works so well with the entire environment, making great use of the stage, the halls and audience, making the classic horror film a great option for a staged production—not only during this Halloween season but any time of the year.

Every actor developed his or her character to fruition, from the zombies to the main cast. In a horror play, it is especially important that every character knows how to let a truly organic scream flow. From the sounds made by the zombies to the genuine screams from the cast, “Night of the Living Dead” placed the audience in a real zombie setting, giving you chills down your spine. However,  it was more than screams and groans, the actors did a great job with their roles, dialogue, concerns and fears.

The zombies had amazing and believable makeup, which was done by Morning Star Bissel and Nick Mendoza, from the classic eyeball melting a face to chewed-on flesh and blood everywhere. To be honest, I was concerned when I saw the first zombie. Although I knew it wasn’t real, the play worked so well to the point of suspending me out of my disbelief completely. Believe me, they’ll convince you.

The stage was simple involving a house and a basement all at the same time. The El Paso Playhouse worked the setting perfectly, and blended both locations without confusion by letting the audience know where to pay attention, thanks to the dialogue. The house was well constructed, looking abandoned, as it should have been. It was also constructed to allow zombies to walk around it—making it seem more real.

This stage production, due to its limited space, had to sacrifice scenes that are hard to work with on a stage, such as scenes outside the house. Thankfully, that didn’t make it less enjoyable by any means.

Hinojos and the El Paso Playhouse put together a play every zombie and Halloween-lover should not miss.

“Night of the Living Dead” will have their last performance on Oct. 31 it should make for a very scary Halloween, especially if you are looking for a break from the costumed-themed parties that usually take place that day.

A costume contest will be held during intermision and first, second and third place will receive a special prize. Tickets are available for $7 for students and military, and $10 for general admission. The El Paso Playhouse is located at 2501 Montana Ave.

Leonardo Montañez may be reached at [email protected]