Denise Devin on Researching Richard III for Zombie Joe’s Upcoming Production

Richard III ZJUZombie Joe’s Underground is getting ready to open Richard III on May 10 and what a wild ride it promises to be. The North Hollywood theatre company has become well-known for its action-packed, explosive adaptations of Shakespeare’s classics and director Denise Devin is having a field day doing the research on one of Shakespeare’s greatest villains. According to Devin, she is “trying to go with historically more accurate, age appropriate characters, (except the young princes), and remember the relationships they all had. So my Richard is only 31. There is no reference in the play as to age; it is just traditionally played older. But I am going with a Richard, who in real life died at 32.”

She also plans to add in the prior relationships through directing, not script adds, and says she’s found them to be “much more dysfunctional than any soap opera on television today. When I really dug into them, I couldn’t quite believe it…and the human mistakes made.”  More


Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Presents RICHARD III

Richard III ZJU

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group presents Shakespeare’s beautiful and bloody journey of one man’s Machiavellian rise to power and ultimate descent into madness, terror and death, Richard III, directed by Denise Devin. The show will run May 10 – June 16, Fridays at 8:30 pm and Sundays at 7:00 pm at ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Tickets are $15. For reservations call (818) 202-4120 and for more information, visit

‘Tis a Madcap Much Ado About Nothing at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre

Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing gets the Zombie Joe treatment in director Denise Devin’s 70-minute quasi-Commedia dell’arte confection that looks at the foibles of love with a winking eye. By stripping the story down to its bare essentials, Devin directs her cast to play the action fast and light, a choice that gives a breathless anticipation to the classic story beginning with a madcap prologue set to music. The tone is clearly fun and games as the actors speed-thru all of the subsequent scenes in a wild comedy of charades before getting down to the actual telling of the story. And tell it well they do.  More

Much Ado About Nothing Up Next for Zombie Joe’s Underground

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group celebrates its 20th Anniversary Season with director Denise Devin’s high impact, turbo-charged production of Shakespeare’s beloved “battle of the sexes” comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, that unfolds the exploits of two pairs of lovers – Beatrice and Benedick: scornful of love, marriage and each other, and Claudio and Hero: young, sweet, and completely gullible.

Sundays at 7pm
October 14 – December 2, 2012
Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group
4850 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA  91601
For tickets ($15) call 818-202-4120.

Zombie Joe’s Underground Extends Blood of Macbeth through Sept. 28

By popular demand, Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group has extended Blood of Macbeth for (6) additional Fridays, August 24 – September 28. All performances begin at 8:30 pm. Directed by Josh T. Ryan and starring Michael Blomgren as Macbeth, this is the Scottish play as you’ve never seen it before. It’s “renegade Shakespeare, brilliantly alive, full of bold choices and a brash in-your-face sensibility that makes you feel the action rather than intellectualize it.” Click Here for our full review. The cast also includes Amir Khalighi (Duncan), Steve Madar (Macduff), Willy Romano-Pugh (Banquo), David Wyn Harris (Fleance), Roger Weiss (The Captain), and Chelsea Kurtz (The Murderer), along with Lizzie Bassett, Jacqueline Baxter, Ren Harris, Beth Ricketson, Lauren Velasco, and Helene Udy as the Twisted Sisters.

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group
4850 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601
For tickets ($15) call 818-202-4120.

Macbeth Like You’ve Never Seen it Before at Zombie Joe’s Underground

“Mania: An abnormally elated mental state, typically characterized by feelings of euphoria, lack of inhibitions, racing thoughts, diminished need for sleep, talkativeness, risk taking, and irritability. In extreme cases, mania can induce hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms.”

To the uninitiated, Zombie Joe’s Blood of Macbeth may look like merely a mad, manic assault on the senses, but there’s a method to director Josh T. Ryan’s madness. His version of the Scottish play (co-written with producer Zombie Joe) purposely shreds Shakespeare’s tale into a ferocious – and often quite visceral – deconstruction that pays tribute to classical theatre forms like Artaud, Japanese Kabuki and Noh Theatre, the Greeks, Beckett, George Lucas, and even the Marx Brothers. Scenes shift so quickly that there’s little time to process what happens in one scene before you’re two steps into the next, and that’s exactly what Ryan intends. The result is renegade Shakespeare, brilliantly alive, full of bold choices and a brash in-your-face sensibility that makes you feel the action rather than intellectualize it.  More

Zombie Joe’s Hamlet Pulses with Tension

Rafael Goldstein (Hamlet) and Vsev (Claudius) Photos by Zombie Joe

Denise Devin deftly directs a fast-paced intermission-less Hamlet with authority and skill at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre; a risk that pays off handsomely as the production explores one man’s psychological descent into evil. Rafael Goldstein takes on the role of the Danish Prince in a performance that pulsates with such palpable intensity that when he says, “now could I drink hot blood /and do such bitter business, as the day /would quake to look on,” we do not doubt for a moment that he is capable of unspeakable acts. ZJ’s intimate black box becomes the perfect contained chamber within which to examine Hamlet’s mutation of the mind and Jennifer Holloway‘s lighting is quite literally all that separates the actors from the audience, mere inches away. Yes, there’s action. People argue. People die. But watching Goldstein’s face all but tremble in its stillness as a thousand thoughts flicker behind his eyes is one of the most intoxicating elements of this production and the reason you should make haste to see him in his first Hamlet.   More

Zombie Joe’s Underground Presents Blood of Macbeth

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group celebrates their 20th anniversary season with their high-impact, post-apocalyptic, re-imagined Shakespearean spectacular, Blood of Macbeth, steeped deep in greed, ambition, magic, and murder. Directed by Josh T. Ryan and starring Lizzie Bassett, Jacqueline Baxter, Michael Blomgren, Ren Harris, David Wyn Harris, Amir, Khalighi, Chelsea Kurtz, Steve Madar, Beth Ricketson, Willy Romano-Pugh, Lauren Velasco, Helene Udy, and Roger Weiss.

Saturdays at 8:30pm and Sundays at 3pm
July 14 – August 19, 2012.
Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group
4850 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601
For tickets ($15) call 818-202-4120.

Rafael Goldstein to Star in Zombie Joe’s Underground’s HAMLET

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group celebrates their 20th anniversary season with William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, Hamlet, the story of the young Prince of Denmark, who learns of his father’s murder and plots revenge! Starring Rafael Goldstein and Directed by Denise Devin. Fridays at 8:30pm and Sundays at 7pm.

July 6 – August 12, 2012
Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group
4850 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601
For tickets ($15) call 818-202-4120 or Click Here.

Passion reigns supreme in Zombie Joe’s Romeo and Juliet

A fiercely passionate Romeo and Juliet is playing at Zombie Joe’s Underground in North Hollywood. Smartly directed by Denise Devin in an adaptation that compresses the well-known story into a succinct 65 minutes, the highly physical and athletic production sallies forward in pursuit of a multitude of burning desires; rage, lust, obsession, and revenge among them. And it does so at breakneck speed.

You can feel the heat from the moment the four testosterone-driven young lads of the houses of Capulet and Montague clash swords in an explosion of color, sound and motion. One almost fears that the hotheaded Mercutio (a terrific Rafael Goldstein) will all but explode if his pent-up rage cannot somehow find quick relief, but this rendering of Romeo and Juliet is not about relief. At its core it is much more intense. Even the young lovers (Alexis Justman and Robert Walters) are driven by a wild, untamable attraction, their bodies ready to swallow each other whole in what few moments they are able to steal – on the infamous balcony, in the woods, or otherwise. And later, Lord Capulet’s (John Moskal) impassioned chastisement of Juliet and Lady Capulet’s (Georgan George) woeful screams further press the in-your-face quality of Devin’s directorial vision.

But, lest you think all is serious in Zombie Joe’s pulsating Verona, humor, too, springs from the well of this Shakespearean tragedy. With nary a pause to slow the action, characters cross quickly in and out of scenes – the ever-skeptical flitting Nurse played by Peter Brook Morrison, a prancing Paris (Wallace Bruce), and the sweet-faced Benvolio (Curtiss Johns), who pokes and prods to lighten the taut grip of indignation on his peers.

As death claims its many victims in this oft told tale, I couldn’t help but be incredibly moved by the sad irony of it all. The doomed lovers tragically pay the ultimate price for their fathers’ feud. More than once bodies littered the floor, and Mercutio’s earlier death is several of the most gut-wrenching minutes of the play, heightened by the close proximity of actor to audience.

Gorgeous costumes by Jeri Batzdorff pop in brilliant contrast to the intimate black box that frames the action, and the swordplay is fast and furious, well-choreographed – though uncredited – and done to perfection. The cast even squeezes a lovely bit of dancing into the compact evening. My introduction to Zombie Joe’s complete, I can only say I am now looking forward to seeing what they will do with their upcoming late night production of The Tempest.

Romeo and Juliet
August 19 – October 8, 2011
Zombie Joe’s Underground
4850 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, 91601

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