Monday, October 18, 2010

“It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Zombie Sings: Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera”

Just when you think that the zombie subgenre has nothing left to offer, someone comes along and proves you dead wrong. October 15, 2010 will see the premiere of Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera at the Grey Box Theater in Lawrenceville, just outside of Pittsburgh.

The creation of artistic directors, Pittsburgh natives and alumni of Duquesne University, Bonnie Bogovich and Elizabeth Rishel, Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera promises to be an exciting blend of live stage, neoclassical opera and multimedia. The Pittsburgh association is almost a given, seeing as how the former Steel City is the unofficial Zombie Capital of the World, thanks to George A. Romero and John Russo giving birth to the whole undead flesh-eating trope in the 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead. We’re talking about a city that hosts a fan-run “Zombie Museum”, housed within the landmark Monroeville Mall—a structure by itself that attracts devoted pilgrims from across the world due to its starring role in Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Zombies are part of Pittsburgh’s DNA, something that Bogovich and Rishel recognized when brainstorming for a Halloween-themed show. “’Zombies’ [were] the obvious subject to tackle,” as Rishel told

Joining forces with screenwriter and editor Barry Bogovich, special effecs makeup designer Arvin Clay,  Director of Photography Edwin Huang, the group put together a show to tell a classic story of a zombie apocalypse in song. “The story of Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera follows the plights of Ronnie, Izzie, and Charles, three college friends, as they navigate their way through the infected streets of Pittsburgh, PA,” reads their official press kit. “Each character must take stock of their priorities as they grapple with the living dead and each other, on their way to a military-controlled safe zone.” In the meantime, continual news footage playing on a video screen provides the Greek Chorus to the action, drama and horror.

Bogovich and Rishel proved just how versatile the zombie mythos could be even within their own structure when they gave convention attendees a sneak preview of the show at the October Horror Realm con. Dubbed “A Zombie Cabaret”, the cast performed a stripped-down highlights version of Evenings in Quarantine in a small but nearly-packed conference room. Keeping the gore to an impressionist minimum—utilizing crimson scarves for spraying blood in a way that would make Puccini proud—and switching up the costuming to that of ‘20s and ‘30s garb, the company’s presentation was inventive and, dare we say it, even cultural. They turned the hordes of walking dead (represented by a trio of extras in removable masks) into a black-tie affair.
But make no mistake: the full production is bloody, gory and everything you’ve come to expect from a full-fledged zombie outbreak. “Liz came up with this break-away corset,” Bogovich gleefully told me at Horror Realm, “so when it comes apart, innards and intestines can spill out on stage.” Combined with the professional props created for the show by the Pittsburgh-based costuming house, Specter Studios, this ingeniousness should make for a grotesquely high-brow evening.

For ticketing information and more about Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera please visit

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