Love never dies... sometimes, it is undead. In My Boyfriend is a Zombie, a teenaged girl falls for the unique charms of a local zombie boy. The events of this bizarre romance lead to an exuberant, if at times overly silly and kitschy, 1950's-style rock musical. The story begins with four schoolgirls hanging out at a sleepover party. The girlish festivities are interrupted when a zombie comes knocking outside. At first, the girls are frightened; they believe the zombie intends to eat them. However, after running into him again at school and the local soda shoppe, Paula is faced with an odd realization. This zombie, by the name of Grrr, may wish to eat other humans, but in her case, he only desires to take her to the Halloween Hop high school dance.
The piece rolls along with a charming exuberance. The fairly ridiculous tale, somewhat reminiscent of the campy style of The Toxic Avenger musical, is punctuated with many humorous bits and gimmicks. Many of the jokes are built upon clichés; some hit as comic gems while others are perhaps less effective. The overall mood of the play is light and fun, so it is easy to get swept up in this tale of first love and zombie fear.
The music is catchy and is all well-suited to the 1950s motif. As a viewer, it is easy to think of yourself as witnessing an off-beat Grease, one where the young people are both charming and somewhat idiotic simultaneously. There is a particularly fantastic zombie tap dance, which is a highlight amongst the well-sung and excellently danced collection of musical numbers. These are the kinds of tunes you can find yourself still humming hours after the play is done.
The production aesthetics are slight: just three downstage microphones, walls full of records, and an on-stage band. Locations are suggested by iconic set pieces and the descriptive dialogue. This show may have benefited from a more over-the-top theatrical setting. The piece feels about to explode with its playful energy, but this is not mirrored in the on-stage space. The use of the microphones is hard to justify: they were not incorporated into the scenic world of the various moments nor were any of the characters, with the exception of Zombette, who acts a narrator, addressing this fourth-wall breaking practice. Singing out loud and doing large-scale dance numbers are just what these kids do, no further explanation necessary.
Despite its oddities, My Boyfriend is a Zombie makes for a very enjoyable night in the theater. It gives its audiences the opportunity to have some good laughs and listen to some fine music. It is not hard to be charmed by this zombie. It may be a little rough around the edges, but it is lovable nonetheless.