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Review: Nightmare on Lincoln Avenue IV: Welcome to the Undead City (Corn Productions)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat

Nightmares on Lincoln Avenue IV, Corn Productions, banner   
Nightmares on Lincoln Avenue:
   Welcome to Undead City

Written and Directed by Christian Vernon
   and Kallie Rolison
at The Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Oct 31  |  tickets: $7-$15   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
   Read entire review



A warped look at the Windy City


Nightmares on Lincoln Avenue IV, Corn Productions, banner


Corn Productions presents


Nightmares on Lincoln Avenue IV:
   Welcome to the Undead City

Review by Anuja Vaidya

As Halloween approaches, the fascination for the all things eerie and downright creepy reaches an all time high. Nightmares on Lincoln Avenue IV: Welcome to the undead city attempts to give the people what they want with a show that is undoubtedly macabre, with moments that are hilarious and grotesque – which can be confusing at times.

The show opens with a family from Peoria, IL, seeking refuge in a 7-11. There they befriend the night manager Stan, and the play follows them as they attempt to escape from the city of Chicago, which they are sure is crawling with the undead. Interspersed through the show are vignettes of ghastly happenings around the city – tourists get infected by the zombie virus on a Wendella boat tour, a local auto repairman whose perverted and possessed hand puppet (an extension of his personality) kills a baby, a pickle tub drummer eats the hearts of people in the city and a woman kills her boyfriend with a fire extinguisher right after a pigeon warns him about her.

The vignettes are in turn humorous and disturbing, and some are both at the same time. The actors in the ‘zombie ensemble’ who perform these pieces switch characters and accents with ease. Also be warned that the ensemble changes sets and stomps through the audience every now and again. Justin Oliver Lance, in particular, is a delight to watch, especially as the disgruntled Wendella tour guide.

The best vignette of the night is one in which a 1950’s style radio commercial goes horribly wrong. A man and woman are shown recording a commercial showcasing a product that eliminates the stink of kitty litter when the man suddenly goes off script, forcing the commercial to take a rather morbid turn. Derrick VanDerMillen and Kalina “Kitten” McCreery do a wonderful job combining the horror and hilarity of this unexpected situation.

The story of the family from Peoria and Stan is the thread holding the vignettes together. In all honesty, however, this doesn’t seem necessary. Their story isn’t all that compelling and is a tad trite as we find out how dysfunctional this suburban family is. Their belief that they are surrounded by the undead is called into question, which makes for a convoluted ending. Mike Sandoval (Stan) has wonderful comic timing, but even with that I wonder if the show might benefit from the elimination of this plotline entirely.

The vignettes are the strongest part of the show and are the moments that stay in your mind after you leave. They are wacky and weird enough to be interesting, even when you aren’t 100 percent sure what the writers are driving at. And what’s Halloween without a little weird, right?


Rating: ★★½



Nightmares on Lincoln Avenue continues through October 31st at the Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln (map), with performances Wednesdays-Saturdays at 8pm.  Tickets are $7-$15, and are available online through (check for half-price tickets at More information at  (Running time: 2 hours, includes an intermission)





Alexander Brooks St. John (Marv); Heather Leary (Rose); Rachel Goffinet (Claire); Mike Sandoval (Stan); Eric Abud (Zombie, Ensemble, Hank, Slow Killer, Eddie); Hannah Huey (Zombie Ensemble, Timmy, Debbie, Julie); Justin Oliver Lance (Zombie Ensemble, Tour Guide, Hungover Dude, Mangeon); Kalina “Kitten” McCreery (Zombie Ensemble, Jingle Woman, Pickle Tub Drummer); Corina Morris (Zombie Ensemble, Martha, DJ BJ, Battery Woman); Derrick VanDerMillen (Zombie Ensemble, Puzzle Piece, Jingle Man, Lucas/Reggie)

behind the scenes

Christian Vernon, Kallie Rolison (co-directors, writers, sound design); Annie Goodson (stage manager); Christian Vernon (set); Tory Flack (set master); Dan Polonka, Cole Orloff (set crew); Kara Karstedt (costumes); Justin Oliver Lance (props); Richard Anderson, Jodi McGrath (props crew); Kathleen Wrinn (music composer); Brad Kemp (musical arrangement); Kara Karstedt (choreography); Orion Couling (fight choreography); Kitten McCreery (fight captain, mistress of gore); Robert Bouwman (artistic director)


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