New Bopping 50’s Musical, ‘My Boyfriend is a Zombie’


Jamaal Kendall and Nicole Patullo. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

In William Electric Black’s newest musical, two guys are in love with the same girl. One’s a monster and the other’s a wise guy with quick fists. Who’s gonna get to take her to the dance? Sounds like “Oklahoma,” doesn’t it? Fooled ya, it’s “My Boyfriend Is A Zombie.” The year is 1958 and the dance in question is the Springtown High School Halloween Hop. This time, the monster gets the girl. It’s a rockin’, boppin’ family-friendly show, to be presented by Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue, June 3 to 27. You can buy a discount ticket if you come in a Zombie costume.

George Romero never had it so tuneful. This piece sports thirteen original numbers written by the team of William Electric Black and Gary Schreiner, both Emmy-winners. There’s an ensemble of ten actors and a three-piece live band. Book, lyrics and direction are by William Electric Black. The show’s website is

The girls are chatty: Allison Troesch, Erin Salm, Nicole Patullo, Cara S. Liander, Macah Coates. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

I know other boys are handsome hunks

And play on the football team.

But my gruesome guy is my maggot pie.

Yeah, he knows how to make chicks scream.

He’s kind of shy,

Doesn’t drink or smoke

And always slurs his words.

Who could ask for more

From the creature I adore?

Does that make me somewhat disturbed?

Rumble in the graveyard: Jamaal Kendall and Jeremy Lardieri. Photo by Cathy Rocher.

Last season, author/director William Electric Black directed TNC’s sensational and serious “Lonely Soldier Monologues: Women at War in Iraq.” The play was a staged series of monologues based on a book by Helen Benedict. It significantly helped the issues of female soldiers to be widely recognized for the first time. This season’s production represents the “other” genre of Black’s theatrical work, which is creating delightful musicals for family audiences. Interestingly, six members of the cast of “Lonely Soldier Monologues…” are appearing in “My Boyfriend Is A Zombie.”

Since 1999, Black has penned and directed a series of “jazzicals” in which classical and modern stories were adapted with modern music. Significant among these have been productions at TNC, which gave Black his start in theater, presenting his earliest work, “Billy Stars and Kid Jupiter.” Now, TNC proudly continues its tradition of supporting and developing Black’s unusual and energetic theatrical work. Too bad if you missed his previous rock musical at TNC, “Betty and the Belrays” (2007), in which three white female singers challenged a racially divided society by singing for a black record label. Black’s theater projects have also been produced at La MaMa, in Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

The monster and his creator: Jamaal Kendall and William Electric Black. Photo by Cathy Rocher.

Black is curator of the Poetry Electric reading series at La MaMa, which fuses music, movement, sound, and dance with the spoken word. Black is also an adjunct professor at NYU’s Tisch School, where among other things, he teaches techniques performance of plays based on literary works.

Co-composer Gary Schreiner received an Emmy for his work on the PBS special “Sneakers,” starring Jon Secada. and writes music actively for films, TV and theater. He has contributed music to 23 feature films, including “Donnie Brasco,” “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector” and “Tiptoes.” In theater, he scored Alison Larkin’s hit one woman show, “The English American,” which led to the bestselling novel of the same name. In independent films, he wrote the music for “The Pirates of Central Park,” which won prizes at Long Island International Film Expo and San Francisco International Film Festival.

The three punks: Matthew Hooper, Jeremy Lardieri, Lenin Alevante. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

The actors are Nicole Patullo (as Paula), Cara S.Liander, Allison Troesch and Macah Coates (as her teenage friends), Jamaal Kendall (as Grrr, the zombie); Jeremy Lardieri, Lenin Alevante and Matthew Hooper (as the three punks), Erin Salm (as the Student Council President) and Verna Hampton (as Zombette, the narrator) The musicians are Gary Schreiner (co-composer/keyboard), Saadi Zain (bass) and James Mussen (drums). Choreography is by Jeremy Lardieri. Lighting design is by Federico Restrepo. Costume design is by Tilly Grimes. Makeup design is by Kate Tsang.

Performances are June 3 to 27, 2010 at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue (at East Tenth Street). The playing schedule is Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Sundays at 3:00 pm. Tickets are (Adults) $15 and (Students/Zombie Costume) $12. for more Show info visit The box office is reachable at (212) 254-1109; buy tickets online at This play is recommended for audiences’ age 10 to 110.