“The Tempest “ by William Shakespeare at Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group.

the tempest - zombie joe's underground theatre group zju noho

There are more than 20 theatres on the NohoArstDistrict.com Theatre grid.

More than 80 percent are in a one-square-mile radius in the NoHo Arts District. You can drive around Lankershim and Magnolia and clearly see the playhouses with bright marquees. There are however several other hidden away theatres that you would not know where even there, unless you already knew, or were told by a friend.

romeo and juliet zju
Photo by Denise Devin.

What?!? Shakespeare at Zombie Joe's? That's right!

Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group presents their fast-paced, high-impact production of Shakespeare's passionate tragedy, about two star-cross'd lovers whose untimely deaths unite their feuding families. Directed by Denise Devin.

AUGUST 19 - OCTOBER 8, 2011
ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood
Reservations: (818) 202- 4120
Tickets: $15

There is nothing "underground" about this production. Zombie Joe's production of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a classic theatrical take on this heart-wrenching story. Presented in a mode reminiscent of the small troops of actors that traveled from town to town to perform for the regular folks in the town square, this production has no sets, or fancy lighting. What it does offer is eleven seasoned and very accomplished actors, in beautifully designed costumes, in a minimalist black limbo setting, performing Shakespeare's work with all the intensity and passion you would expect. The show is fast-paced, the eloquent language flowing with poetic meter and quick tempo. Romeo and Juliet's passion is palpable, the love scenes erotic, and the stresses it causes in the two feuding families is vividly presented as the tragedy unfolds. The swordplay was very believable, blood and all, as director Denise Devin saw to it that all the action was as refined as the poetic delivery of the classic language.

romeo and juliet zju

Shakespeare is the "holy grail" of acting. The classical music of the theatre. Only the best and most experienced actors can pull this off. They do so here with excellence. This intimate production is perfect for the theatre-goer who wants to "get" Shakespeare.

There is not one moment of boredom or ho-hum here. The fast-paced, tight production does justice to Shakespeare, and proves that Zombie Joe's Group, as wild and crazy as it likes to be, can be serious and masterful as well.

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Fulsome, apron donned moms do it. Cute diapered baby boys do it. Even chaste good nuns do it. Let’s do it! Let’s fall. Let’s fall. Let’s fall.

urban death

At once dark, delicious descent into a pageant of gore, and luminous musical romp through the most ignoble archetypes inhabiting our collective image repertoire, playing late nights in the heart of Noho, writer-director Zombie Joe’s, Urban Death, drives the final stake through the heart of the mere notion that anything is or can be sacred - at least not anything ordained as such by the despicable creatures paraded before us in scene after lurid scene, creatures we can only recognize as us.

Devil's Love - ZJU

Zombie Joe's Underground presents their enchantingly gritty new production of playwright Zombie Joe's canon of mini-plays revealing love's wicked delights.  Directed by Jana Wimer and Sebastian Munoz.

Zombie Joe serves up a juicy, flavorful, and macabre mix of seven mini-plays.  This format of perfectly portioned stories, each about the dark side of love, provides a Friday late-night treat for the theatre-goer.   

Salome @ ZJU

In this year of the Arab Spring, and with American forces in Iraq and above Libya, it would be tempting for any director to oversell the similarities between the Middle East today and as portrayed in Oscar Wilde's "Salome". In the play, the established order is threatened by the presence of John the Baptist, a humorless, single-minded devotee of someone called Jesus Christ, about whom little is known by the other characters except that he may have turned water into wine.

Robert A. Prior, who directs the current, one-act, one-hour production of "Salome" at Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group, has neatly balanced the ancient and the contemporary. The three soldiers, military fatigues draped over their muscular torsos, could pass as extras from "The Hurt Locker". On the other hand, the lead character, wearing a simple grayish blue dress and understated tiara, looks like she might have been a desert-based queen from long ago, and this John the Baptist is notable for his long, stringy black hair and loin cloth. Prior's adroit staging encourages us to hold two thoughts, which are neither in conflict nor a distraction, about politics then and now in that ever-churning part of the world.

Sotto Voce @ ZJU

Zombie Joe may be lots of things, but fauxvocative, he ain’t. He’s the real deal, and his latest neo-Gothic tale might be about exorcizing your demons, but it’s also about getting in touch with them, quite literally.

Some Like It Freaky By Christine Palau In writer-director, Adam Neubauer's play, MELODRAMA, which runs through March 12 at Zombie Joe's Underground, John (Robert Walters) suffers mild bouts of hysteria after his father's death a couple years earlier. His inept struggle to find his dad’s assassin lends itself to a deluge of perversity and high-jinx. Part musical, part sitcom, it's the quintessential, self-conscious, Valley romp that both haters and 818-ers are sure to get a kick out of. It's Weho Meets Noho...with a dash of Chatsworth.

Urban Death at Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre
Every once in a while you see something in the horror world that's so smart, so different, so entertaining that you have to tell everyone about it. Well lucky you because that's what just happened to me this past weekend in North Hollywood at Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group. Their new signature horror production, Urban Death, is the most entertaining live show I've seen in years, and single-handedly proves that horror is not only alive but thriving, if you know where to look for it.  
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