More than 50 years after the film’s release, Maverick Theater puts on their “Night of the Living Dead” production, based on George A. Romero’s classic horror film. It has continued to be a crowd favorite, and the Maverick Theater demonstrates that.

This marks 16 consecutive years that Brian Newell, the Maverick Theater’s founder and producer has brought his adaptation of “Night of the Living Dead” back to life in downtown Fullerton.

The audience was required to keep their masks on and bring proof of vaccination to enter; then led to a lounge to relax and have beverages before the production began.

Newell took center stage to greet the audience and gave a brief description of last year’s unique showing of the production. Followed by Newells’ speech loud banging and yelling could be heard around the room as part of the performance.

Zombies stare down guests as they try to break through a nailed wood opening. Photo Credit: Ethan Ahoia

Zombies stare down guests as they try to break through a nailed wood opening.
Photo Credit: Ethan Ahoia Photo credit: Ethan Ahoia

This show will have you gripping your seat, wondering where the next surprise scare is going to come from. The small-scale theater and stage were made for a unique way for the actors to engage with the audience. It was exciting to see the actors treating the audience like survivors as if the guests were pulled right into their world.

“I’ve seen it a couple of times and with all this space here I think they do a phenomenal job,” said recurring audience member and Fullerton resident Fatima Bayati. “Each time it’s a little different and I’m all about zombies, I was a fan of zombies before the walking dead!” Bayati said.

In Newell’s adaptation, the story unfolded in 1968. It follows seven people trapped in a rural farmhouse in Pennsylvania, which is under attack by a relentless horde of flesh-eating corpses.

"Night of the Living Dead" pamphlet showing the cast. Photo credit: Ethan Ahoia

“Night of the Living Dead” pamphlet showing the cast.
Photo credit: Ethan Ahoia Photo credit: Ethan Ahoia

Some might describe the acting as brilliant. Main cast members Scott Johnson and Briana Donze gave outstanding performances that complemented one another; stand-out acting from the supporting cast helped to balance it all out.

The audience appeared amused the entire night as the show was a good mixture of scares, surprises, and comical moments to relieve the tension at times.

Zombies crawl across the stage as chaos ensues. Photo credit: Ethan Ahoia

Zombies crawl across the stage as chaos ensues.
Photo credit: Ethan Ahoia Photo credit: Ethan Ahoia

Recurring audience member Blase Maffia described the performance as, “Cadaverously comedic!”

The lighting, sounds and set design were amazing and unique, giving an eerie realism to the stage. The costumes and makeup were impressive and executed so well to an extent where it seemed like zombies were clawing their way into the building.

Zombies breaking through to try and devour the survivors. Photo credit: Ethan Ahoia

Survivors trying to hold off the relentless ghouls breaking through the house.
Photo credit: Ethan Ahoia Photo credit: Ethan Ahoia

“I loved it…very surprising, spooky and with jump scares,” said first-time audience member Madison Rhodes.

What better way to start the Halloween season than a trip to see the “Night of the Living Dead” production? Filled with chills, surprises, jump scares, and non-stop entertainment, it’s a frightening theater production worth the price of admission.

Tickets cost $29.00 with a fee of $1.50. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to the Maverick Theater’s website. Be sure to buy your tickets soon; they sell out quickly most nights!

“The Night of the Living Dead” runs from now to October 30 at The Maverick Theater located at 110 E. Walnut Ave.

Author profile

Ethan Ahoia (he/him) is a journalism major from La Mirada, CA. In his free time, he enjoys writing poetry, watching movies, and playing with his labradoodle.