Salmon Arm Secondary Grade 11 and 12 acting students are rehearsing for Santa’s Zombie Apocalypse, opening Dec. 6 at Shuswap Theatre. The school’s two acting classes will be perform alternating shows until Dec. 16. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

Reindeer vs. Zombies in family friendly holiday production

Shuswap Theatre and Salmon Arm Secondary team up for Santa’s Zombie Apocalypse

While the weather outside may be frightful, Santa’s Zombie Apocalypse promises family friendly fun when it plays Shuswap Theatre starting Dec. 6.

The upcoming production of the Bradley Walton play is a collaboration between Shuswap Theatre and Salmon Arm Secondary’s drama department.

Drama teacher and Shuswap Theatre artistic committee member, Gloria Cox, will be in the director’s chair, with students from her two Grade 11 and 12 acting classes doing eight shows on alternating nights during the play’s two-week run.

As per the title, the lumbering undead are indeed a key feature of this unusual but humorous holiday stage offering. The premise of the play is that zombies have somehow made their way to the North Pole and Santa’s toy shop, trapping a suddenly not-so-jolly old St. Nick and elves within.

Related: Cod Gone Wild deliver Christmas with a Celtic twist to the Shuswap

Two enthusiastic reindeer fawns, Arti and Tippett, step up to the challenge of saving both Santa and Christmas.

As far as zombie invasions go, this one is fairly benign (Cox assures no one gets eaten). However, the action of the play lends itself to a multi-media experience during which Arti and Tippett utilize their newly acquired video game skills to avoid and evade zombies and rack up points in the process.

“The two little reindeer are the main characters that are going to save Santa, but they don’t have any experience so they pretend they’re playing a video game,” said Cox. “There’s this screen that’s on stage, so while the play is taking place, the video game is on the screen. The reindeer dodge zombies, 50 points, and ring, the bell goes, and there’s this tally that’s being run on the screen…”

The production represents a first-time collaboration between Shuswap Theatre and Salmon Arm Secondary. Cox says it’s an opportunity for Shuswap Theatre to take on a mentoring role that will be both educational and inspirational for her students.

“What we’re hoping is the relationship will strengthen between the theatre and the school, because one of the goals for the theatre is to get more youth involved…,” said Cox. “There’s 40-plus kids in my class that will be here, getting comfortable in the space, getting to know what Shuswap Theatre is about. Hopefully they will be involved in the future.”

“So far, it’s working and it’s a consistent theme,” adds Shuswap Theatre’s Hamilton McClymont. “If you go from the kids that were in Mary Poppins, to the kids that were in Stereotype High, which was an entirely teenage cast, and then to the kids who were in Romeo and Juliet, it starts to look like a pattern and it’s intentional.”

Related: Shuswap Theatre play looks at unintended relationships

Working behind the scenes are costume designer Keren Huyter, who designed for Shuswap Theatre’s productions of Mary Poppins and Romeo and Juliet, in addition to designing the costumes for Opera Kelowna’s recent production of Carmen.

Jean Angers returns to Shuswap Theatre to design lighting for Santa’s Zombie Apocalypse. A graduate of the National Theatre School, Angers has worked extensively in major theatres in Quebec, as well as on the technical end of touring shows. Angers works regularly with the drama department at the high school (Annie, Flapper) and with Shuswap Theatre (Mary Poppins, I Had a Job I Liked Once).

Iwona Wardynski is designing the set for the play. An interior designer by profession, Wardynski is eager to get to work on this, her first Shuswap Theatre project.

Santa’s Zombie Apocalypse opens at Shuswap Theatre on Thursday, Dec. 6, and runs to Sunday, Dec. 16. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. Tickets, $10 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under, are available online at shuswaptheatre.com, or at Intwined Fibre Arts, 161 Hudson Ave. NE, in Salmon Arm.

For more information, contact Hamilton McClymont at hammcc3@gmail.com or 604-741-5305.

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