Robert Dennick Joki hopes the ''Living Dead'' will have a long life.
''Living Dead: The Musical,'' which Joki co-wrote with Josh Taylor, will have its premiere Friday at the Rust Belt Theater Company.
''We recently made the switch to doing all locally written material, and we wanted to come up with a show that does what ''How the Drag Queen Stole Christmas'' does for Christmas, only for Halloween,'' Joki said. ''It's something we can change and add to every year.''
The musical is loosely based on the George A. Romero black-and-white horror classic ''Night of the Living Dead,'' but it only serves as the jumping off point for a show that references other zombie stories as well as works like the ''Rocky Horror Show.''
''We started out by sitting down and watching the movie, figuring out what the funny moments were, looking at classic horror movies with a modern eye, finding the things that would have been scary then that are funny now,'' Joki said.
Joki wrote the script and he and Taylor co-wrote the songs, which include ''Love Me 'Til the End of the World,'' ''I Got Yo Black'' and ''I Think I'm in the Wrong Musical.'' Joki said some of the songs that expects to get the biggest reaction from the audience are ''The Slutty Girl Is the One Who Gets Eaten First,'' the high-energy dance number ''Gabriel's Horn'' and ''He Only Hits Me Cuz He Love Me,'' a country-style duet between two of the female leads.
When You Go
WHAT: Rust Belt Theater Company ''Living Dead: The Musical''
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Nov. 2 and 8 p.m. and midnight Oct. 26 and Nov. 3
WHERE: Calvin Center, 755 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown
HOW MUCH: $15 adults and $10 students and senior citizens. For reservations or more information, call 330-507-2358.
Joki directed the Oakland Center for the Arts' production of ''Evil Dead: The Musical'' last spring, and that experience proved invaluable for his own show.
''I decided to do this version of 'Living Dead' first, but working on that show helped a lot,'' he said. ''It's got the same kind of humor. I got a handle on what is practical as far as what you can do with stage blood and gore.''
The cast for ''Living Dead: The Musical'' features Kage Coven, Marisa Zamary, Kelsie Moon, Andy Peretic, Hunter Thomas, Tom Smith, Nicole Zayas, Misty Sharrone, Lynn Sabeh, Geri DeWitt, Alia Layshock, Tyler Rust, Grace Offerdahl, David Cirelli, Brian Root, Stan Schulte, Nicole Zayas and Joki.
He had an open casting call, but Joki said he wrote some of the roles for specific actors, like Coven.
''I cast him in 'Evil Dead,' and he's never really done a lead role in anything because he's one of those actors who doesn't fit in any mold,'' Joki said. ''But he just fits this perfectly.''
''Living Dead: The Musical'' was conceived as a show Rust Belt can stage every October, the same way ''How the Drag Queen Stole Christmas'' returns every December. But it's also a show that may have a future with other theater companies.
''I'd like to package it to see if others would like to perform it. I already get requests for 'Drag Queen,' but I haven't given anyone permission yet. I want to make sure I'm comfortable with the music and the writing before I let anyone else do it.''