Winter Play 2014 - "10 Ways To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse"

WGHS Drama produced a second mainstage show this Fall called 10 Ways To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse written by Don Zolidis. It was a perfect fit for the students that are currently in the department, and our Little Theater works very well with Mr. Zolidis's scripts (we produced one of his other plays a couple of years ago).

Watch a montage video of clips 
from our Fall 2014
by following the link below

This script is very funny. Mr. Zolidis likes quirky pop references and making fun of mankind. His plays also allow you to produce without needing too much tech (no muss no fuss staging). The director can cast a very large group of actors because the characters are plentiful...and that always makes for a good time.

T-shirt layout by Bridget Kahrhoff (4th Hour Tech Theater)

We are so thrilled to see such amazing attendance 
at all of shows this semester. 

Shout out to the Thespian Officers that have worked hard getting the students to come out for the events, our attendance is largely due to your efforts. Keep it up!


The auditions for this show were combined with the auditions for Rumors and so we only had a few actors come back in and read sides for this show. We mostly knew if they were right for a part from their reading for Rumors. A few actors were asked to read some of the bigger monologues before we felt we could lock them in a specific speaking role. All of the parts were cast with some discussion from the casting table, but we always come to an agreement in the end when it comes to the final cast. This cast fit their parts very well, and everyone did a great job working to find the characters and the comedy in the scenes.

Courtney (as Christy) begs to be eaten by the Zombies...and then gets eaten by the zombies.

Auditions (con't)
This was a very broad style comedy audition. We were first having the actors read sides from Rumors which is a farce. The two shows are similar in style so we felt that they would work well together in a double audition.

We announce the shows at the end of the summer. We post all the sides at least two days before (or the day of) so they can read them over. We explain all of the characters. We explain the style of this show. We try to get them pumped and confident. Then we warm them up as a group. Whenever we do comedy we tell them that they must make us laugh. (and Mr.Schaefer laughs at a lot of stuff that would be questionably funny to most). 

We know doing asking young actors to do comedy well in an audition is a tough order, but the ones who rise to the challenge always make the cast list.   

...Something that we have never seen happened at this year's auditions. The entire group of people auditioning cheered and applauded and encouraged every student that entered to audition. As people left we thought the cheering would end, but it continued all the way to the end. 

It was a very cool group of students that came out to audition this Fall, 
and we are thankful for their time and energy. 

Emma (as Susan) tries to romance the Zombies...


The age range in the cast was also very diverse, so we had a good mix of students representing the department and it brought some new parents and family into the audience.



Marie Bardmeier and Goldie Raznick

Both of our narrators were new to the WG Little Theater stage, and they fit their parts perfectly. Marie and Goldie set up all of these crazy stories with real flair and had fun milking every moment. The way we styled them also helped make their relationship comedic. 

Marie showing off her rodent strand...for when you are feeling peckish

This was a difficult job for these two actors. They had to keep the play moving and never let the pace get held up. A bell dinged when the scene ended and they had to jump right in.Towards the end of the run, the actors really got comfortable and even started play a running gag with the spot light operator Alex. 


Aerin Johnson and Jake Schutt 

Allison O’Brien and Connor Hanneken

and (of course) Loren Kahrhoff (being painted by Maddy Toskin)

The Zombies had a tough job in this show. It was all physical and vocal work for the actors in the end. They had to really come in with a lot of energy to make it work for the audience. Rehearsals were used to set all of the entrances and exits. Timing was everything and they had to be all over the place for the entire show. 
The best part was never knowing 
when the ZOMBIES would pop out next!
They were in every scene and they had to sell a very limited vocabulary. We cast five actors in the beginning, but lost one before we opened due to conflicts and Conner H. stepped in to fill that last slot the week before. Having five zombies worked well for the staging and gave us just enough variety in the group. 

Courtney (as a professor) tries to reason with the zombies

The Zombies, all painted up, hanging out 
waiting for their first entrance...

Each Zombie actor decided to be something different. We ended up with an array of characters and the audience never got bored with their antics. We had a surfer (shark bite), a cowgirl (gunshot), and Old Lady (walker accident), a Bride (Bridzilla), and a bus driver (The route finally got to him).

Zombies going in for the kill...

(Christy, Susan, Sam, and Jimmy)

Thomas Maisel, and Emma Dowling

Thomas Putnam and Elliot Williams

Sarah Addison and Reilly Thompson

Miles Umbaugh and Courtney Degroot

Bobby Drexel and Jeremy Spriggs

 and Ben Hardin...not pictured:( 

The actors that played the survivors switched characters constantly throughout the show. Every scene had all four teenagers in it, one or more would die, and we always had a different set of actors in the roles every time. The audience loved this detail in the casting. Kept each scene different and unexpected. 

               Bobby (as Jimmy) and Miles (as Sam) argue over fries as the Zombies approach...

The way we accomplished this was with specifically colored T-shirts that had each of the character's name printed on the front of it. 

Elliot, Emma, Jeremy, and Courtney try to figure out 
what Sam is trying to say...something about tiny dentists.

We also used baseball hats and ponytails to help show which character the actors were playing. 

Sarah Addison (as Christy) fell down and she desperately tries to get someone to carry her... 

The script gave us a lot of moments that required the actors to play things quickly and without any extra pauses. This is always the hardest thing to get right and our last week of rehearsal really set the scenes and go the actors to feel the flow of the jokes. The actors really came to life when we had a couple of new people in the house during one of the last dress rehearsals. It clicked and they started working for the laughs.

Cannibadoism? Really? Where's the hot sauce?

This cast was made up of very busy people and trying to get all of the actors in the room at the same time was tough. Most rehearsals had someone missing, and we had to really work around a lot of conflicts. That happens a lot when we have large casts, but with a dedicated production crew and stage managers we get work done no matter what.

Thomas as Sam calling his dogs      Someone killed Sir.Muffinstuff

The production staff kept themselves focused on the prize, kept calm, and got all of the tech work done on time, and it all worked out in the end. Always does.


Todd Schaefer

Jonah Schnell
Asst. Director
Lighting designer / Light Board Op

Natalie Cohen
Stage Manager

Kate Arendes
Asst. Director

Maggie Pool (not pictured) - Dir. Apprentice

Maddy Toskin
Make-up Chief

Micah Wilson (not pictured) - Hair Design for “Goldie”
Erin Stanton (not pictured) - Make-up crew

Hannah Leatherbarrow
House Mgr./ Box Office

Erica Donermeyer (not pictured) - Properties

Alex White
Follow Spot Op

Jacob Noce
Sound Op

The props for this show were pretty easy to make or find and we didn't have to come up with too many. The script kept it simple (unlike the last Zolidis script we did which had over 250 props). We did make a few of the props, but in the end it was Erica's job to mostly make sure they were preset before the show and collected at the end.  We added some gags with soda and chips. We also had some fake rodents on a string. Mostly it was kept pretty simple with the properties.  

Mrs. Donermeyer (Our prop's mistress's mother) went to the stores right after Halloween for us and got some great severed (foam) limbs (about 15 of them total) that we used as props in the scenes and as set dressing (she go them for 50% off - a real deal for this kind of stuff). They were great cause we could beat each other with them and it wouldn't hurt. The script had several people being hit by things and these worked well for those moments. The UFO also came to us from her as well and was originally an old 1970's lampshade. It is entirely ceramic, so it was rather fragile, but it work great for the final scene in the show. It really looked like a UFO.

The antimatter cannon (one of our favorite props in the show) was started by some of the students in tech but was finished by Mr. Schaefer the day we opened. We couldn't buy this particular prop (we looked), and because of bugdet we knew it would be best to construct it ourselves. It was built out of cardboard concrete form tubes, scrap trim wood, lots of masking tape and silver and black spray paint. The button is a soda bottle lid. We also like to use a fat sharpie to add some details.


The Tech classes produced some nice materials to help market the show. This is a way for them to see the importance of marketing to sell teckets. This was a show that had a good title (we figured that the word "Zombie" would automatically sell some tickets), but you can't rely on title alone to sell a show. We always have to work at getting the word out and getting people to know when the shows are happening. We use the hallways of the school and any social media options we have available. The most effective social media have been Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We use this blog and our website ( as well.   


The T-shirt was a hit, and it was a great tool to get the word out about the show. We love that we have Mrs. Genevese on campus. She is one of the art teachers and she runs a company caled T's 4U that does silkscreening for us and she makes sure everything is exactly how we want it. We get to choose the color of shirt and what color ink. Sometimes she is able to do multiple color screening, but mostly we stay in a monochromatic scale.  

Brigdet formated a great look for the shirt 
and it was almost unanimous when we went to vote.

Other T-shirt designs that were great but didn't make the final cut...

Chris Ball's design from tech and Natalie Cohen or Stage Manager 
Hannah Love's T-shirt design

Elliot William's design (a cast member) and Kate Arendes from Tech class

NOTE: Mrs. G also printed our shirts that actors wore as the characters in the play. That really helped keep the costume costs for the show down, and she made them in great colors for the stage.

  What? There are two Susan's at one time? How is that possible?

We also made lots of bloody costume pieces for the show. This is the cowboy hat that Allison O'Brien wore for part of the show. We also distressed a wedding dress, surfer shorts and several shirts for the zombies to wear. This was all done the same night we added some paint to the set.


We also had several posters that turned out great and that we used around the school. These were created during Tech class in the computer labs using Microsoft Publisher. We use 11 x 17 tabloid portrait size and then send them to Mrs. Cashel in the media center to have them copied in color. All of the designs get at least one printing, and then the cast decides which posters it wants mass printed for hanging out in the community.

Some of our favorites were...


The posters are a great opportunity for the Tech classes to work on some essential marketing principles. They are asked to work in full color and to utilize symbols and themes from the script to develop an appropriate selling tool for the show. The posters are stagnant billboards and we are hoping to attract the attention of the student walking by and get them to stop and read the information. It is not easy and the time allowed to create the poster is always limited.

Tickets for our preview performance that we ended up cancelling to allow for one more dress rehearsal before we showed to audiences..we needed it.

Set Contruction/Design

The set was created by the 4th and 5th Hour Technical Theater Classes. We started by reading the script aloud in class. Then we spent some time drawing the various apocalyptic worlds we had in our heads. We knew we needed a certain amount of entrances and exits, so we played with an idea of building three piles of destruction. The students had a lot of ideas, but when it came to actually constructing all of the ideas we encountered a time issue and we discovered that the materials we would need exceeded our budget. 

A rough sketch of the set by Delaney Whelan in 5th Hour Tech

A rough sketch of the set by Emily Fritz in 5th Hour Tech

So instead we decided to make into a game. Mr. Schaefer drew three 4 x 4 ft squares on the stage and the classes split into three teams. They were given screw guns and anything they could find in the theater's stock (various pieces of wood, flats, window units, stools, chairs, boxes, shutters, pipes, etc). They had the hour to construct a sculpture that filled the square on the floor and went as tall at they could get it (up to 10'). When one class finished the next one came in and continued on the structures. It was fun to watch the students sculpt and the shapes we made were great. Each team worked hard and the kids really worked together to get things to stay where they wanted them. 

               By the end of the two hours we had three fabulous apocalyptic piles of destruction. 

The second day of the build we started to connect the structures. We added the electric poles, a bunch of arms, city scape, cemetery headstones, and some other odds and ends to round out the look. The ripped up plastic was added last, we installed a fan and a fog machine to add some atmosphere. 

Finally we added some paint to give the set a really burned out look and to unify the color scheme of the set.

                Once we got into the space with our rehearsals, the show started to come to life.


We had some really great opportunity to add color and specialized lighting to the set and bring a real sense of the apocalyptic world. Jonah decided to use a lot of our "clippy" lights gel'd green and blue. He also used our RGB strip lights and extra par cans on stage to add an extra red wash across the set.

We imbedded a lot of the lighting into the actual structure which helped provide some great illumination on stage. 

Jonah had some colors assigned to specific moments in the show and it helped keep the audience with the story. We decided to add the follow spot to all of the narrator scenes. This really made them stand out apart from the rest of the scenes (until the two worlds collide in the last method).

Another convention he set up for the play's lighting was that everytime someone got eaten by a Zombie the whole stage went red, and Jacob would play a sound effect of zombie eating and chewing to add to the effect. It worked great! 

The colors used for the main scenes with the teenagers used green and blues mostly. These scenes also used areas three front of house lights with amber gels.

The road block was added to the design by students in 5th hour and 
we moved it to the side once the show started.

In the end the set had great shadows and some really wonderful dimension. We had some good cafe lights strands that draped across the two sides like high voltage wires, and the last thing we did was added some fake-flame bowls. They got placed around the set and it created some really nice movement when the light from the flames danced on the structures.

The lighting looked great and the show had some great moments due to the way the lights set the mood and tempo.


The sound design for the show was not easy. There were lots of little moments that needed quick sound cues. Jonah designed great clips for the style of the play. We had a bell that dinged after every lesson. We had guns shots, cannon zapping, songs that played for the Kung Fu scene, a UFO landing, and of course the munching noises. It was a great opportunity to get the sound op involved in the show. Jacob ran the board brilliantly. The sound was flawless in the end. Sound has a way of keeping the audience in the world of the play, and it also can really add a punchline to a gag. 

Special Thanks

Debbie Genovese for printing our fabulous show T-Shirts and the character shirts used in the show, Maureen Cashel for being our copying GODDESS, The ECHO for their stories about the department and this show, The WGHS Admin for being there for us, Mrs. Arendes for all of the food during rehearsals and helping organize our concessions, and to 4th and 5th hour tech classes and all of the various Tech and Drama students who came in after school hours to help work on this oh-so-cool apocalyptic set and lights.

The last night of the show we had Kate Arendes come up on stage. She was originally in the cast and had to miss the run due to illness, but did get to attend the performance on Sat night. The cast was glad she could make it out to see the show close (and sat night's show was great!)

The CAST and CREW 
of this production says...

No comments:

Post a Comment