Local choreographer puts personal touch on zombies

September 23, 2008

By David Hayes

Kathryn Van Meter (right), of Issaquah, choreographs the final scene from the Seattle Children’s Theatre production of ‘Night of the Living Dead.’ Photo contributed. 


Kathryn Van Meter (right), of Issaquah, choreographs the final scene from the Seattle Children’s Theatre production of ‘Night of the Living Dead.’ Photo contributed.

Issaquah resident Kathryn Van Meter is a familiar face for Village Theatre patrons. She’s built a nice little portfolio of work, be it acting in or choreographing local productions.

However, she and the thespians at the Seattle Children’s Theatre are adventuring into uncharted territory — a PG-13 rating. That’s what you get with a play about flesh-eating zombies in “Night of the Living Dead.”

“Director Wendle Hurt saw the show in Portland and thought the show would be fun for us to adapt for a high school audience,” Van Meter said. “This will be a unique production with no school shows, since it has a PG-13 rating.”

The production is an adaptation of the original 1968 film by George Romero of a small group of survivors besieged by a hoard of neighbors-turned-zombies. Van Meter portrays Judy, one of the unfortunate victims. 

Playing a horror movie damsel in distress is a long way from the roles she’s enjoyed at Village Theatre. Van Meter has been in “Evita,” “Cats,” “The Girl of My Dreams” and “Steel Magnolias.” 

She’s also building her niche choreographing musical numbers for Village Theatre, including “The King and I,” “The Man of La Mancha,” and “The Who’s Tommy.”

Van Meter said she first got involved in choreography in college. While attending The College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Va., they asked for a volunteer to choreograph a production.

“I’ve loved to dance my whole life,” she said. “My freshman year, they needed someone to choreograph ‘Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.’ I said, ‘Sure, I’d love to give it a try.’”

And she’s been doing it every year since she graduated in 1997. Van Meter said she enjoys trying to make each production unique to her and the people in the cast she has to choreograph, getting the most out of their talents.

Two of the most challenging productions she said she’s ever choreographed were Village Theatre’s “The King and I” and “The Who’s Tommy.”

“‘The King and I’ was very specific to a time period. There were strict rules of what you can pass off as something they’d do in Siam in 1862,” Van Meter said. 

“The Who’s Tommy” was challenging for entirely different reasons.

“It was my first time with a production with no rules,” she said, which allowed her total freedom to take creative license with the story of a deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard.

While “Night of the Living Dead” isn’t a musical, Van Meter has found a way to put her personal stamp on that production, as well. She’s choreographing a little dance number at the end involving all the zombies, a sort of a tribute to the classic Michael Jackson video for his song “Thriller.”

“This is going to be a great play,” she said. “It’s going to be one of the funniest acts in Seattle — a blend of make you jump out of your seat and scream with laugh-out-loud antics. It should be spooky and gory enough, but not too serious to give you nightmares.”

Reach Reporter David Hayes at 392-6434, ext. 237, or dhayes@isspress.com.

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