When a zombie says, “Hey, I’m about to be shot by a laser beam!” during EPiC’s show Planet Z, the audience is invited to take a balloon from the bag they will be given, blow it up, and release it into the air filling the theater with laser beam noises.
Audience members will receive a bag on their seat filled with objects, such as paper asteroids, glitter and balloons, that they will get to throw on stage or use at various times throughout the play to interact with the actors.
Planet Z opened on Oct. 4 and will run until Oct. 8 in the Little Theatre at 7:30 p.m. each night.
Jon Tracy, a local bay area director, wrote Planet Z and was brought in to direct the play. Since he is both the writer and director, the cast was able to constantly change scenes and edit lines. This is the first time that Planet Z has ever been performed.
The play is about a group of humans, lead by captain Malzar (played by David Simpson-Heil), who crash their spaceship on Planet Z, a planet where humans kept all their enslaved zombies after a zombie apocalypse. In a Romeo-and-Juliet-type lovestory, Larry, a zombie, falls madly in love with a human, Cindy (played by Ally Orrick) adding to the tension between the two rival groups. The rest of the zombies and humans disapprove of this romance, especially Cindy’s father, Malzar.
“The plot of this play is sort of like West Side Story in space but with ‘80s music, zombies and humans. It’s just funny and weird and sort of out there,” said junior Zoe Grandy, who is playing one of the lead zombies.
According to Grandy, the audience is expected to have a lot of fun and be engaged because the actors are going to be breaking the fourth wall. The fourth wall is the metaphorical wall between the stage and the audience, and by breaking it the actors acknowledge the audience.
“I’m definitely looking forward to being able to break the fourth wall. It’s not like other plays where you’re just playing a character. We are still playing our characters, but we are also acknowledging that there are 100 or so people in the audience,” said senior Jack Spalding, who plays the zombie love interest.
Grandy says that she believes the message of the play is that different people are able to love each other and should not be judged for their relationship.
The play features many cheesy jokes, energetic dances and recognizable music including everything from “Beat It” by Michael Jackson to “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. These dances, however, present challenges for some of the actors.
“The hardest thing for me about this play is probably the choreography because there’s a lot of dance numbers,” Spalding said. “We are trying to stylistically dance how some of the artists dance such as Michael Jackson and Madonna.”
Due to the play’s plot, there are a lot of spaceship sounds, asteroid and zombie alarms, according to junior Alyssa Saylor, who is operating the light and sound for the show.
“Since it’s ‘80s based, there are a lot of flashing and big bold colors,” Saylor said. “A lot of sound cues are unexpected and are supposed to be funny and ridiculous.”
The cast members have been working on the play since the auditions that took place on Aug. 18 and have been practicing Monday through Friday, with occasional Saturday practices from 3-6 p.m. since then.