The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
Thursday, January 24 - 7:30 pm
Friday, January 25 - 7:30 pm
Saturday, January 26 - 7:30 pm
Sunday, January 27 - 3:00 pm
Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for students.
Bright flashes of bubblegum pinks and electric oranges adorn the stage of Port Neches-Groves High School’s production of “Zombie Prom,” which will open at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium.
The musical will take the audience back to the 1950s during an era of knee-length skirts and lettered cardigans and centers on a familiar love story between a good-girl wanting to rebel and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who is that rebellion.
Except that the boy happens to be a by-product of a nuclear waste accident.
Choosing a musical is always an expensive choice, Eyles said during dress rehearsal on Tuesday.
“We did ‘Bye, Bye, Birdie,’ a few years ago and it was a ton of money,” Eyles said. “Because you have to buy the performance rights, productions like this are expensive.”
In every theater class, she teaches her students the importance of frugality. At most schools, funds for theatre, band and choir can be scarce, therefore she said her classes make sure to recycle everything.
“I have a pretty decent stock of 50s dresses, but I gave the kids a list of what they needed,” Eyles, who has taught at PN-G for five years, said. “We start with a low-limit, recycle everything; this year, we only had to buy paint for the set.”
Trips were made to Walmart and Goodwill to find the authentic-looking garb worn by the cast members. The lettered cardigans were sewn on by the students, she said.
“We have football and basketball players, theatre students and Indianettes in this production; these are the leaders of the school, so there really is a cross-section of students,” she said.
With cascading red locks and a booming singing voice, three-year theatre student Ashley Mouton will portray Delilah Strict, the “mostly unpleasant” principal of the fictional Enrico Fermi High School in “Zombie Prom.”
Now a senior, Mouton has performed in every PN-G production since late in her freshman year, making Strict her seventh role to tackle. She is also an Indian Singer and member of the Indian Players, the school’s acting troupe.
“She has been really fun to play — an interesting character,” Mouton said. “(My favorite roles) have to be a tie between this character and Rusty in ‘Footloose.’”
Mouton and a classmate, Katelyn Parker, recently advanced to the national competition of the Texas All-State Thespian Convention. The pair was able to bring their acting chops and work with students from Midland to Denison, Mouton said.
“Out of 60 plays, 10 are chosen to advance to Nationals in Nashville, Tenn.,” she said.
Mouton enjoys acting out the supporting roles because they give her the chance to be “larger than life with fun and memorable quirks,” but the focus isn’t all on her.
“It’s been such a fun show with such a talented group of singers,” she said.
Each part of the production is executed by students, including the set design, technical work (lighting and sound) and all the performance elements. “They learn it in class and are able to apply it out here,” she said.
At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, the auditorium was revamped with a complete LED lighting system.
“We are the first high school in Texas to have a 100 percent LED auditorium,” Eyles said, admitting that they are somewhat “guinea pigs.” “What was once used to run one lamp can run produce a full set of lights.”
Due to a “very forward-thinking” maintenance director who wrote the request for all LED lights, the school board approved the more expensive system knowing that eventually it would cost less in the future, Eyles said.
“It’s full color and covers the entire stage,” she said. “We asked for the moon and they gave us the sun.”
Senior Katelyn Parker is the technical director for the show and is able to change the flow of the production by using different onstage lighting, Eyles said. This helps the mood go from happy (pink) scenes to more serious “zombie” (green) scenes.
Former PN-G student Thompson Pham choreographed the show, taking direction from the original Off-Broadway production and combining his own techniques. Pham is a dance teacher at iRule Dance Studio in Beaumont.
A major challenge for the production has been combining the live orchestra, made up of advanced PN-G band students and teachers, with the song and dance onstage. Due to the Christmas break, there have only been about 10 rehearsals altogether and only a few with the live music, Eyles said.
Band director Alex Wells will conduct the orchestra, while the assistant band director Phillip Maldonado will be performing in it. Choir teacher Steve James will play guitar, science teacher Annette Meier on piano and Martin Trammell on drums.
Tonight’s performance starts at 7:30 p.m. at the PN-G auditorium, 1401 Merriman St. in Port Neches, and will run until Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students.