Ricardo Wilson, right, who plays Ben, drags Devon Baumgardner, who plays a zombie, across the floor as Briana Giddings, who plays Barbara, watches in fear Tuesday during the dress rehearsal for Ellison High Schools production of Night of the Living Dead.
Briana Giddings, who plays Barbara, grabs Ricardo Wilson, who plays Ben, during a dress rehearsal Tuesday for Ellison High Schools production of Night of the Living Dead.
Zombies attack Demric Burnett, who plays the police chief, middle, during a dress rehearsal Tuesday evening for Ellison High Schools production of Night of the Living Dead.

Ellison High School students perform ‘Night of the Living Dead’

By Chris McGuinness

Killeen Daily Herald

Ghouls in bloody, tattered clothes shamble through the dark toward a young woman. They attack and she fights them off, running to take shelter in an old house nearby. She thinks she is safe, but the creatures follow her, scratching at the doors and windows as their moans fill the night air.

This isn’t happening on any movie or television screen. It happening inside the auditorium at Ellison High School.

It isn’t the average school play. This year, the school’s student theater group, Ellison Drama, is putting on a stage production of George Romero’s classic horror film, “Night of the Living Dead.” The chilling story of a small group of survivors trapped in a farmhouse fending off legions of zombies was adapted for the theater and caught the eye of Ellison drama instructor Meredith Yanchak.

“Zombies are really in right now,” said Yanchak before a recent dress rehearsal. “I was also excited about some of the technical issues involved, such as the makeup and special effects.”

The choice of a nontraditional production excited many of the students involved in the production.

“I was really excited when I heard we were going to be doing (the play),” said junior Fallon Christian, the play’s stage manager. “I want to work on film production for horror movies so this was perfect.”

The production will be one of Ellison Drama’s biggest so far, with a cast and crew of more than 40 students, some of whom are acting for the first time.

“At first I was nervous, but you get more comfortable as you work with the other actors,” said Ricardo Wilson, a sophomore.

Wilson, who has never acted before, auditioned for the part and landed the male lead role as “Ben.”

“A lot (of students) think it’s a pretty cool idea, and said they might come to see (the production),” said Wilson.

Wilson and the production’s female lead, Briana Giddings, will be battling some 20 students playing zombies.

While many of the students playing zombies relished the idea of donning gruesome makeup and learning how to walk like the undead, senior Teresa Flores said she was initially a little nervous.

“I was worried because I was playing a zombie, but I’m scared of horror movies,” said Flores. “But I figured if I can act in one, maybe I’ll be able to watch one, too.”

The production opens at 7 p.m. today and runs through Saturday at Ellison High School’s auditorium. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students.