Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Review: Musical of the Living Dead/The Cowardly Scarecrow Theatre Company

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Photo by Michael Courier

Photo: Michael Courier

Co-creators Marc Lewallen and Brad Younts (who also share writing and directing duty) have somehow tapped into the collective desire for all things zombie with this slapdash musical comedy splatterfest. Now in its fourth year, “Musical of the Living Dead” has upgraded to a space at Stage 773 and continues to consistently draw enthusiastic crowds. And, though the show certainly has its moments, I can’t say I completely understand what the draw is. The majority of the jokes fall flat, with the actors unsure if they are playing it campy, as a parody or just straight-up comedically and, of the nearly twenty songs in the show (with music performed by a muted live band in the back of the theater), only a few of them are genuinely catchy and memorable. There’s “Perfect Weapon,” in which four men croon about their weapon of choice and “My Little Box,” sung with wide-eyed conviction by a fully invested Brittny Congleton; these two hit the mark. And then there’s about two more hours of singing, dancing, hamming and blood spurting (those in the first three rows are issued ponchos for good reason). Loosely following the plot of the original “Night of the Living Dead” (with an introduction by George A. Romero himself—a completely deadpan Jacob Clausen), “Musical of the Living Dead” throws out every zombie joke it can, but for my money it needs twice as much shameless blood spraying and half as much running time to live up to its hype. (Zach Freeman)

The Cowardly Scarecrow Theatre Company at Stage 773, 1225 West Belmont, (773)327-5252, $25. Through November 9.

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