They’re coming to get you, Barbra — possibly from your seat in the audience. Bakersfield Community Theatre is ready to terrify with its new “Night of the Living Dead Live.”
A love of horror films runs deep for many and that crowd includes director Rebecca Worley, who's bringing her vision to the new production.
"'Night of the Living Dead' is one of the first horror films I saw with my father when I was a child so it holds a special place in my heart," she wrote in an email. "When BCT decided to produce the show I was really excited and jumped at the chance to direct it."
Fans of George A. Romero's classic 1968 film will find familiar faces in the first act. Barbra (Jessica Nichols) and Ben (Michael Moore), thrown together on the run from the living dead, encounter two couples, Harry (Josh Evans) and Helen (Janice Bondurant) and Judy (Sydney Brunsell) and Tom (Carlos Contreras), also hiding from the ghouls.
Worley said the show's second half is where things get really interesting, exploring what-if scenarios with several alternative endings.
"'Night of the Living Dead Live' follows the film almost perfectly word for word until it doesn’t," she wrote. "George Romero worked closely with the writers to celebrate his original film and to also create a completely original piece for the stage."
The show has plenty of surprises in store, including some making use of the audience space, Worley said.
And "Night" would be nothing without its zombies, complete with gory wounds, attacking and eating characters. Worley credits makeup artist Deva Wiloth for making the creatures stand out and the rest of her crew for the necessary stage effects.
"This was really a team effort to create this production. ... The special effects were created by Ed French and Janice Bondurant and look so realistic that they are truly wonderful. The sound effects were also so complicated that I’m grateful I had Mark Hugo to create them for me and lighting by Deb Terrell just brings it all together."
Those effects, including fatal gunshots, blood spray and zombie attacks, mean this is not a show for young children (or the squeamish).
But beneath all the spooky, otherworldly action, Worley said there is a message audiences can take away, whether facing zombies or deadlines.
"Working together can solve our problems no matter how insurmountable they may seem."