Zombies lack the romantic appeal of vampires. Drinking blood—kind of sexy. Chomping on brains and assorted viscera—rather a mess. Nevertheless, writer-director William Electric Black has tried to harness the amorous possibilities of the undead for his new musical My Boyfriend Is a Zombie, at Theater for the New City. In this none-too-lively ’50s-style tuner, teen queen Paula Pearstone (Nicole Patullo) rejects her delinquent swain, Hotrod (Jeremy Lardieri), for the putrid charms of GRRR (Jamaal Kendall).
Black has spent much of his career as a writer for Sesame Street and, despite the occasional references to booze and Chevy backseats, this show seems aimed at a similar demographic. Sometimes, the scenes have an appealing silliness, but the book and lyrics are lamentably juvenile: “So the girls decided to run/’Cause when a zombie gets hungry/Your ass is done.” The tunes themselves rely on apt, if undistinguished, period pastiche—pop, doo-wop, a lame attempt at soul.
One troubling note: The slobbering, ravening zombies are played by African-American actors, while the objects of their appetites are not. Imagine Grease, with the threat of miscegenation and the stench of rotting flesh. “We Go Together”? Not so much.