Inside JCPRD: How to make a zombie – Don’t drive your motorcycle into a nuclear power reactor. No really… don’t!

“Zombie Prom” cast on stage, see the show July 15-23 at the Theatre in the Park - a show the New York Times referred to as “a gentle sendup of the teenage romance films... given a radioactive glow of novelty.”

By Theatre in the Park Producing Artistic Director Tim Bair

Here’s how it goes…

Toffee: baton twirling member of the pep squad, popular, does well in school… good girl.

Jonny: motorcycle riding, leather jacket wearing, spells his name without an “h” rebel… bad boy.

The two fall in love. (Of course.) They met whilst ducking-and-covering briefly beneath a lunch table during an air raid siren practice session. (It seems a grimy cafeteria floor is NOT a deterrent to love at first sight.)

I’m sure you know what follows.


Yeah… they’re not having any of the bad boy business and shut that stuff down pronto.

Toffee is heartbroken. Tears… angst… the whole schebang. But (given that this is the 1950s… or so) she complies with her parents’ orders and breaks it off with Jonny.

Poor Jonny, on the other hand, takes it all VERY badly, and in a state of despair and lost love, hurls himself and his motorcycle into the nearby nuclear power reactor. He just couldn’t go on without her, of course! I’m sure you understand. (It was his one chance for a baton twirler, and he knew it!)

Now, while any rational person would surmise that nuclear waste and a subsequent burial at sea would be the end of Jonny, and life could get back to normal, this IS musical theater after all. So… no. The plot thickens.

Toffee just can’t let Jonny go and sings “Jonny, I love you so…” which (surprise!) magically brings Jonny crawling out of the nearby international waters only to appear back in the hallways of Enrico Fermi High School!

NOW there are a LOT of questions… will Toffee take him back? Will he be able to graduate? Can he go to the prom after all? Do zombies have rhythm? Who knows?!

I know you’re on the edge of your seat, but I’m not going to give anything more away. You’ll just have to see the show!!

“Zombie Prom” will be presented on the Theatre in the Park’s Outdoor Stage in Shawnee Mission Park July 15, 16, 17, and July 20, 21, 22, and 23. This production is rated PG and will run approximately 2.5 hours minutes with one 15-minute intermission. The box office opens at 7 pm, gates open at 7:30 pm, show begins at 8:30 pm. General admission is $10 for adults, $6 for youth ages four to ten, plus tax, and free for children three and under, but tickets are still required. For more information, visit

The fun part of this show is that it is entirely tongue-in-cheek. Poking fun of just about everything! It also has terrific music, clever comedy written into the script, and a full cast of terrifically talented people!

Another interesting thing that happens during the show is that the actor playing Jonny (Ryan Russell) DOES have to go from bad boy to zombie in a pretty short period of time! It goes like this… end of song… black out… run off stage… get out of your NORMAL bad boy clothes, get air brushed green and layer on a lot of zombie-fication (Thank you, John Hollan and Rod Zirkle of Red Circle Design!)… put on your zombie bad boy version of your costume and get yourself back on stage! Oh, and don’t forget… sing, act, and dance too! All that in just minutes!

Jonny (played by Ryan Russell) transforming from a bad boy to a zombie in “Zombie Prom”.

Naturally, there are a bevy of other ridiculous characters in the show. Ms. Delilah Strict (Cassaundra Sutherland), Enrico Fermi High’s principal, and straight-up zombie hater; Eddie Flagrante (Scott Salem), a national news reporter set on telling Jonny’s story; Candy, Coco, and Ginger (Margot Reed, Haley Knudsen, Abigail Knepper), Toffee’s trio of best friends; and a lot of side kicks and kids just wandering the halls trying to figure out what to do with a zombie in science class!

It is a truly silly, ridiculous, zany show. Perfect for a night in the park!

(PS: Zombies are make-believe, of course. The stories of “walkers” emerging from the lake in Shawnee Mission Park are just fabrications… I think.)