Zombies take over Baker Park Bandshell, bring back 'Thriller' performance

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Oct. 29—Zombies crawled around the Baker Park Bandshell Sunday night. One zombie came out of the tree with a noose around her neck. She lurched toward the stage.

Then, "Thriller" by Michael Jackson blared on the speakers, bringing all the zombies in line.

Thriller was back at the Bandshell.

Other Voices, a nonprofit performing arts company, used to perform "Thriller" as a part of a larger spooky event hosted by the city of Frederick, with ghost walks and other Halloween activities.

But when that event stopped roughly five years ago, so did the Thriller performances.

But it was back on Sunday. The show started with a number from The Addams Family, "When You're An Addam," followed by solo singers who performed songs like "Popular" from Wicked, and "The Seven Deadly Virtues" from Camelot.

"Thriller" capped off the the night with a shriek.

For the dancers and singers at Other Voices, it was heartbreaking to see the performance go away.

The "Thriller" performance was one of the biggest, most hyped performances of the year.

"It was always something that growing up in the company, you were like,'I want to be like the big girls like I want to go do that,'" Kaitlyn McGuire said. "It was super cool and it's something that was an honor to be in."

McGuire, who is 22, danced with the Dance Unlimited Repertory Company, the dancing arm of the Other Voices, for nine years.

She was one of the alumni that was invited back for the performance. She only went to one rehearsal, not counting the one taking place the day of the performance, and her body remembered all the moves from when she performed it years ago.

One of the reasons why the "Thriller" performance is so loved among the dance company is for how much fun it is, another alumni, Riley Smith, said. Dancers become characters, let loose, and also scare people in the process.

Smith danced at the company for 15 years. Now, she teaches acting classes there. Part of her classes has consisted of getting the dancers ready for the "Thriller" performance.

When the dancers audition to be a part of "Thriller," they have to have a story for their zombie, like who they are and how they died. That backstory should shine through in the movement, the make up and costume of the zombie.

Smith's zombie is a pirate who fell overboard, got caught in a net and drowned. Her costume was full of netting, and her face was covered in shells and sea moss.

Danielle Tuomey said that the dancers got to take a make up class in order to get their make up right for their costumes. Everyone is always giving 150% for this show, she said.

Tuomey's character is from an older time period, who died from choking on something.

"One thing though, I always do is I choke. I keep chocolate syrup in my mouth so that I can like go and spit it up," she said.

For the alumni returning to perform, the show makes them feel simultaneously younger and older. Smith said she felt like she was back to the time when she was a young dancer, but also realized she wasn't as spry as she once was.

"Sometimes it's hard to keep up with these guys. They dance so many hours every week and I just don't anymore," she said.

So their energy makes her want to dance harder. Then the younger ones are impressed by the alumni, making them want to dance harder, she said.

Melissa Golden was already practicing before rehearsal, working with a another dancer on her steps.

This was Golden's first time performing in "Thriller" since 2007. Her son, Hayden Boerum, died in 2008 when he was 7 from a rare disorder called hystiocytosis.

"That was the last performance he ever saw me in," she said.

She wasn't able to perform after his death, but this year, she decided to come out of retirement.

She was a nurse, staggering around with syringes in her hands. And with the other zombies, she careened, dance and jerked to the iconic song, ending with a zombie bow.

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