Going into its sixth run in seven years, Night Of The Living Dead stage/film adaptation at the Bug Theatre has become as much a fall tradition as back-to-school sales and Chicago Cubs collapses. Every year, director Kris Hipps throws a few curve balls, delighting returning audiences with new Easter eggs. Here, she talks about George Romero’s regrets, staging a blood-fest and dancing like Richard Nixon.G
NOTLD runs Oct. 10-Nov. 1, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 pm at the Bug Theatre (3654 Navajo St., Denver). Tickets start at $16 www.bugtheatre.info for more.
French Davis: Why do you think NOLD has been such a success over the years?
Kris Hipps: Zombies are hot, and have been for several years, prompted by the Romero movies, the Resident Evil games and movies, and the continued popularity of The Walking Dead graphic novels and AMC show. Plus, we just have a ton of fun with this show. It’s silly and campy and we go over the top with blood and effects. It’s just become a fun Halloween tradition.
FD: Why does the film/stage hybrid approach work so well with this show?
KH: Admittedly it makes it much easier to fit the action on stage — this way we build one set, and don’t have to worry about how to stage the outside scenes. There is also much more freedom shooting exteriors — and I think it’s more fun for the audience. It also certainly makes this a unique experience for people who may not have a lot of exposure to live theatre or local film. It’s a wonderful way to get introduced to both art forms.
FD: What changes do you make to keep this show fresh year after year?
KH: In the original Romero film, Barbara finds an old woman’s corpse at the top of the stairs, but her origin is never revealed. So we change the opening scene every year, with different ways in which the old lady died. We’ve had many different concepts to explain her demise, but this year may be one of our most fun reasons yet. I also write new scenes, to keep it fresh and fun for all of our returning audience members, and this year there are some really big surprises.
FD: What is your favorite part of the show?
KH: I love the different openings; they’re always the most fun. I get to be really creative and we get to start the show with a big blood-fest, and who doesn’t love that?
FD: We’ve heard that audience members often come in costume. What have been your favorite zombie costumes over the years?
KH: We’ve had a lot. There was the entire zombie Scooby-Doo gang, they were pretty cool. But my favorite would have to be the five zombie nuns. They come every year and it’s awesome.
FD: How would you survive the zombie apocalypse?
KH: I would build a bunker in our cellar (Harry was right!).
FD: If George Romero saw this version, what do you think he would say?
KH: It’s a fun show and it certainly pays homage to one of the most crucial and legendary horror films ever made, so I think he would like it, but I think he would still regret letting it go into public domain.
FD: What are your favorite scary movies?
KH: Number one would be Dario Argento’s Suspiria, followed by Carpenter’s Halloween, and The Haunting (1960s version)
FD: With 5 years of performing NOLD, you must have a favorite backstage memory? What is it?
KH: We have a lot of fun backstage and we always keep the energy up with dancing and other silly things. But, for my favorite, I think it would have to be Joe Graves (our original Ben) dancing backstage while wearing a Richard Nixon mask during intermission. We sometimes even film our backstage shenanigans and post them to our Facebook page, so take a look and you may even get to see the silly things we are up to back there.