Nov. 09--Halloween has come and gone, but its spirit is alive and, well, a little dead in the Ohio State University Theater Department version of Zombie Prom.
The conventions of high-school comedy and cheap horror films collide with mixed results in the peppy musical by former central Ohioans John Dempsey and Dana P. Rowe.
Dempsey and Rowe conceived the silly genre mash-up, which is based on a campy but sweet story by Dempsey and Hugh M. Murphy centering on a boy who rises from the dead after a nuclear-plant accident to rejoin his senior class and take his girlfriend to the prom.
Some of Dempsey's lyrics are clever.
Overall, though, the 1993 musical -- which ran off-Broadway in 1996 -- features predictable plot twists, cartoonish characters and a generic score that's mostly forgettable.
All of which probably explains why the show is revived only occasionally.
Nonetheless, during the opening performance on Thursday in the Drake Center's Thurber Theatre, director Mandy Fox found ways to make the two-act, two-hour show sizzle and evoke better moments of Grease and The Rocky Horror Show.
OSU's top-notch production is most impressive for its design, from Trenton Bean's angular atomic-age scenery to Emily Jeu's 1950s pastel costumes and Chelsie McPhilimy's candied lighting.
Kelly Hogan (as popular high-school senior Toffee) and Trent Rowland (as Jonny, her back-from-the-dead boyfriend) generate romantic-comedy chemistry while singing and moving with retro style.
Liz Light has fun camping it up as Miss Delilah Strict, the tough principal with a secret.
Although the orchestrations and sound design muddy some dialogue and lyrics, the lively five-member pit orchestra helps propel Rowe's best melodies: Blast From the Past, belted out by Rowland; and The Voice in the Ocean, a soaring duet by Rowland and Hogan.
And Good as It Gets, led by Hogan, speaks to this presentation of Zombie Prom: It's as good a performance of the derivative musical comedy as one can get.
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