Urban Death Is Back!

URBAN_DEATH@ZJU_PHOTO-1 (Photo by Marti Matulis)

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group in North Hollywood has brought back their signature show, Urban Death, for its 2016 adventure into the nightmares of its viewers. Also returning as co-directors are Urban Death co-creators, Zombie Joe and Jana Wimer. Joining them on their journey is the incredible cast consisting of Michelle Danyn, Shayne Eastin, Allison Medeiros Fogarty, Gloria Galvan, Brett Gustafson, David Wyn Harris, Allira Jaques, Benjamin Michael Marsh, Daniel Palma, Kelly Powers, Adam Shows, Morgan Allyce Smith, Lola Tarantula, Kevin Van Cott, and Matthew Tyler Vorce.

For those unfamiliar with the yearly show, Urban Death is a vignette show, in the style of Grand Guignol and theatre of cruelty. Over the course of an hour, the audience is treated to numerous scenes, dealing with horror, murder, sex, dark humor, and the things that lurk in nightmares. With each passing year, the show changes, offering an array of new scenes. Though, a few classics always return.

URBAN_DEATH@ZJU_PHOTO-4(Photo by Marti Matulis)

With this year, the show had a different vibe and feel. The audience entered the theatre to the sounds of classic rock. After the sold out crowd had taken their seats, the lights went out and the show began. Over the course of the hour, we were treated to a pile of bodies, slowly rising to life and lunging at the audience, a politician beating herself while demanding the public  vote for her; a creepy snuff film brought to life, seductive dancing, ghosts, demons, and much more. There is so much to see, that I couldn’t describe each scene and do it justice. It must be seen.

As I stated earlier, Urban Death changes and evolves each year. A majority of the show is brand new, with only a few classic pieces returning. This year followed that pattern, but in an odd way. As the evening progressed I noticed a theme emerging. While horror and the macabre have generally been the main themes among the scenes in years past, this year had more of a focus on sexual undertones and dark humor. While I can appreciate the show changing each year, the focus on sexual scenes got to be a little much and boring at times. There seemed to be way too many of them. I was hoping for more of the scary and freaky scenes. However, the cast made the scenes work. Even with the lack of scary scenes, the show was far from dull.

URBAN_DEATH@ZJU_PHOTO-6(Photo by Marti Matulis)

What really makes this show, as with any version of Urban Death, is the cast. They are fearless. To go out there and perform these scenes takes a certain level of skill, confidence, and insanity (In the good way of course!). The cast itself is made up of both Urban Death veterans, who bring the experience, and new blood, who bring a fresh, new energy to the show. You can tell that some are a little new because a couple of scene shifts were a little rough, but they still went on and gave their all.

If I had a real gripe with the show it comes down to a few directorial choices. A few scenes were blocked where the audience couldn’t see the actors on the stage, including one in which the last two rows of audience members had to stand in order to see what was going on. I was also disappointed to see the choice not to include a pre-show and the choice to forego the usual Urban Death music as the audience enters the theatre. As a fan, I’ve always enjoyed the pre-show as it sets the mood for the evening. With that said, neither of those issues ruined the show.

URBAN_DEATH@ZJU_PHOTO-2(Photo by Marti Matulis)

Even though the show does feel like a very different version of Urban Death, the show itself is still quite good. There are some great moments and the cast is absolutely fantastic. It’s different, unique, and is the perfect stepping stone to the haunt and horror season. With that being said, go and see it. You will never see another show quite like it.

The continued success of Urban Death has allowed the show to grow and expand. ZJU has presented a smaller version of Urban Death the last two years at Scare LA, and they will be presenting Urban Death at the Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival this July in Long Beach. The show has also spawned the very successful and highly anticipated Urban Death Tour of Terror Halloween attraction. Urban Death also inspired ZJU’s Blood Alley.

URBAN_DEATH@ZJU_PHOTO-5(Photo by Marti Matulis)

Urban Death runs Friday and Saturday Nights, April 29th through May 28th, 2016, at 11pm. The show is designed for ages 15 and up!

Tickets are $15 and can be bought at the door or online at ZombieJoes.Tix.com . You can also call the official ZJU reservation hotline at (818) 202-4120.

ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601.

URBAN_DEATH@ZJU_PHOTO-3(Photo by Marti Matulis)

This event WILL SELL OUT. It is highly recommended that you buy your tickets early and arrive to the theatre early to get a good seat!


This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Andy Shultz. Bookmark the permalink.

About Andy Shultz

I'm a writer, director, producer, reviewer and co-founder of All Hallows' Haunts- A Horror, Halloween and Haunt review blog! Check us out on wordpress @AllHallowsHaunts and on Twitter @HallowsHaunts. You can also follow me on Twitter- @Andy1701.

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