Actor spotlight: For the star of Selma’s ‘Zombie Prom,’ a little radiation can’t get in the way of love

One of my Selma spies tells me that Lalaina Rabetsimba is doing great things as an actor in the Selma Arts Center Teen Company production of the musical “Zombie Prom” (which continues through Saturday, Jan. 18 with two performances remaining). She plays the leading role of Jonny, the class “bad boy,” in a bit of gender-bending casting. Here a quick rundown:

Name: Lalaina Rabetsimba.

Age: 14.

School: Ninth grader, Clovis West High School.

Theater background: Her first experience was seeing a church play. She’s been involved in theater since she was 8 years old, when she played the Wicked Witch of the West.

Her character: Jonny starts his senior year at Enrico Fermi High School, where he meets Toffee, “the love of his life,” Lalaina says. When Toffee breaks it off with him, Johnny roars off on his motorcycle to a nuclear waste dump and returns glowing. Do proms come with Geiger counters?


The challenge: “This is usually played by a boy so I have had to learn things from as simple as walking to singing as a baritone. It has been a challenge but also very fun and exciting.”

Costume and makeup: As a zombie, she gets a green face with blue veins. “And my costume is cooler than before (her character is irradiated) because it makes me look like a rebel.”

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being weakest), her interest in the overall zombie pop culture phenomenon: About an 8. “I do think zombies are really cool, but I personally don’t like watching scary movies/ tv shows.”

One thing about herself that would surprise most people: when she was younger, her passion was to be a basketball player.

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A behind-the-scenes secret: Before every show, the cast of “Zombie Prom” likes to do the hand jive from “Grease.”

Plans for the future: “I would love to pursue musical theater but I also would love to go into the field of psychology.”

Last words: “Please come see ‘Zombie Prom.’ We promise to entertain you but I cannot promise not to eat your brain!”

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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