Night of the Living Dead Live returns with help from Hamilton producer

Night of the Living Dead Live is returning to Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto for a second stint from October 8 to 27 after a successful first run.

Theatre production of horror classic hits the stage again in October

Night of the Living Dead Live is coming back this October. From L-R: Mike "Nug" Nahrgang (Harry), Gwynne Philips (Barbara), Andrew Fleming (Tom), Dale Boyer (Judy/Helen), Daryl Hinds (Ben). (Photo coutesy of Nictophobia Films/Living Dead Live Inc.)

The dead are shambling back to the stage this October, thanks to a Hamilton-led crew.

Night of the Living Dead Live is returning to Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto for a second stint from October 8 to 27 after a successful first run.

"It quickly became a cult hit," said producer Phil Pattison, who is from Hamilton. "I still can't believe it."

The play's original run of 32 shows this past spring garnered significant praise because of the theatre company's connection to the source material — and the blessing of George A. Romero, the director of the 1968 cult hit original, Pattison said.

"This property has been ripped off so many times, and we didn't want to be one of those guys," he said. "We didn't want to piss off too many people."

Romero himself actually signed on as an executive producer on the live show, making it an official adaptation. He came to Toronto for opening night back in April, and stayed for four more performances.

Considering the iconic horror director is a longtime idol of Pattison's, that's a big deal.

"His posters are all over my wall. To this day, it will never get old," Pattison said. "We've become friends with him — which to me is so, so surreal."

The show's story centres on a farmhouse in the 1960s, where six strangers are trapped, surrounded by the dead who have risen from their graves.

After over four decades, it's a well-known premise — though the production might not be exactly what horror aficionados expect. The original was extremely gritty, shot in stark black and white and reviled for its brutality at the time. Pattison and his partner Christopher Harrison wrote the first script of the stage show, and it was just as dark and very true to the film.

But somewhere along the line, they decided that might not fly onstage.

"To get butts in seats, we thought we'd better take a different route," he said.

So the script was rewritten by a group that includes Christopher Bond (Evil Dead: The Musical), Trevor Martin (Patch Town, A Little Bit Zombie) and Dale Boyer (Second City, Live from the CenTre).

"We wanted people to come and have a good time," Pattison said. "We've had six-year-olds in the audience who have had a blast."

Tickets for the show are available online at Nightofthelivingdeadlive.com and at the Night of the Living Dead Live ticket launch party on August 10 at Sp!n in Toronto, 461 King St. W., from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.


Adam Carter


Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.