This one’s for the girlies, ghoulies and ‘50s-freaks! We’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the ebullient musical Zombie Prom (US/UK) – which blends the tuneful sound of ‘50s musicals like Grease with the verve of a spooky B-movie – with this look at the show’s colorful cast of characters.
Based on a story by John Dempsey and Hugh M. Murphy, Zombie Prom was adapted for the stage by Mac Tumminelli, with music by Dana P. Rowe. The New York Times hailed the piece as a “a gentle send-up of the teenage romance films.” Thinking of bringing it to your stage or performing a number for a competition? Read on to see which character(s) could be a fit for you or your performance group.
Toffee (F, HS Senior)
Toffee is, as her name implies, a sweet girl from the right side of the tracks. She’s a senior in high school, making her way through the days with earnestness and humor. During a bomb drill, she bumps into Jonny – and it’s love at first sight. After Jonny slips into radioactive sludge, she mourns his passing with fervor; when he returns as a zombie, she struggles to decide whether or not to follow the fledgling impulse of forbidden love. Despite their fatal difference, their love for one another is pure and true.
Jonny Warner (M, HS Senior)
Jonny is a good kid, but he grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. He has an extreme earnestness about him; he’s sincere and funny. After his radioactive accident, Jonny finds that he has a hard time reintegrating himself into the community at Enrico Fermi High. Despite the social rejection that he faces, especially from adults, Jonny is able to attend the prom with Toffee. Together, the pure joy they feel in being together helps melt the hardened hearts of the school’s authority figures. Toffee and Jonny’s forbidden zombie love ultimately becomes a legend at the school for years and years to come.
Delilah Strict (F, 35-50)
Miss Strict is the school principal; she has a brutal, icy exterior, but beneath her calcific shell hides a heart of gold. She takes immense pride in the power she holds over the students at Enrico Fermi High, and takes pleasure in terrorizing them with stories of potential disaster. One of her headliner numbers is “Rules, Regulations and Respect” — all of which Miss Strict tries her best to foster at her school. She can be given to nostalgia; it doesn’t take much for her to remember what it was like to be a high school teenager with a swooning heart.
Eddie Flagrante (M, 35-50)
A newspaper journalist, Eddie is an opportunistic tabloid reporter who sees a hit story in Toffee and Jonny’s tale of love. Despite his tough exterior, Eddie roots for the underdog and welcomes justice in the end. Along the way, Eddie also makes a discovery about his own past. Think Geraldo Rivera but with Kevin Klein’s comic appeal.
Candy (F, HS Senior)
Candy, despite her name and good intentions, is an agent of chaos. She’s a nervous and hyper senior, and that inner life manifests in her habit of biting her fingernails. When she learns that Toffee is hung up on Jonny after his “death” by nuclear waste, she goads the other girls into rushing Toffee through the mourning process, making a number of morbid puns. Like most of Toffee’s friends, she eventually comes around to supporting Jonny and Toffee’s relationship. Candy can double as Mother’s Voice, a Secretary and the Make-Up Lady.
Coco (F, HS Senior)
Coco isn’t actually a bad person — but she’s drawn that way. She has a dry wit, as evidenced here:
COCO: When you really think about it, it’s kinda romantic – losing a boyfriend to nuclear waste.
After Toffee loses Jonny, Coco offers to set her up with someone else. At first, Coco tries to help Toffee get over Jonny, but like the rest of their friend group, she eventually changes her tune and helps to uplift Jonny and Toffee’s true love.
Ginger (F, HS Senior)
Ginger is a sweetheart. She’s the class nerd; she’s smart, and plays by the rules. She’s quite naïve when it comes to the realm of boys. Sometimes, the way she parrots the voices of authority figures annoys her friend group — but she means well! She can double as the Secretary and Ramona Merengue.
Jake (Male, HS Senior)
Probably voted the most popular, Jake is sweet and personable, and deeply in love with Candy. He has a wholesome and appealing quality… think Richie from Happy Days. He can double as Copy Boy and Motorwise Gasoline Guy.
Joey (M, HS Senior)
Joey’s the class jock. He’s big, handsome and not all that bright. Like many the rest of the boy’s clique at Enrico Fermi High, Joey knows how to snap on a phony smile when it’ll help him get by or get out of a hairy situation. He can double as Father’s Voice, Copy Boy and Motorwise Gasoline Guy.
Josh (M, HS Senior)
The class geek, Josh is an aspiring journalist. Brainy, gawkish and uncool, Josh is like Pee Wee Herman without the weird voice. He can double as the Announcer.