The Shadow Cats started this Op'ra sh*t back in November, 2008, when a small group of strangers clad in gentern masks and black eyeliner got together for a night of Repo! Karaoke. After a few hilarious (and, in typical Karaoke fashion, rather terrible) renditions of "Zydrate Anatomy", "Seventeen" and "Genetic Emancipation", a geeky fan idea was born:
"Wouldn't it be cool if we formed a shadow cast for Repo!?"
The insanity began from there. With only a month left before the print was to come back to Toronto, the cast had very little time to prepare for such an ambitious project. To add to the challenge, none of the cast members owned a screener copy of the film as that DVD was not going to be available for another month and a half. The odds were against them, but they were dedicated. Using only the soundtrack, Youtube clips and collective memory as their guide, the Shadow Cats prepared 11 scenes to perform for Toronto Repo! fans. Their first show on January 3rd, 2009 at the Bloor Cinema in the presence of co-creator Terrance Zdunich made history as the first ever shadow cast performance of Repo! in the world.
The Shadow Cats enjoyed monthly shows at their original home theatre, The Bloor Cinema for the next two years. Along with hosting special theme nights such as the Drag Show and Repo! Burlesque, they also shared many double features with the legendary Toronto Rocky Horror cast, Excited Mental State. In July of 2009, The Shadow Cats joined other local troupes in a very successful Fringe shadow casting event, "The Silver Stage".
The Shadow Cats pride themselves in putting together a satirical, raunchier version of what is seen on screen. They keep the show fresh by switching gags and roles on a frequent basis. They continue to perform monthly shows at their current home theatre, The Toronto Underground Cinema.
A shadow cast is a group of performers who re-enact a film while it plays behind them. While screen accuracy is a huge part of shadow casting, performers can also add their own unique twist on stage from what is seen on screen. The cast also typically interacts with the audience, encouraging them to participate in the film viewing experience. Shadow casting is a popular tradition with several cult films, the most notable film being the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Repo! The Genetic Opera was the collaborative creation of artist Terrance Zdunich, musician Darren Smith and director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II-V). Originally written for the stage, this film features
dark, heavy themes through edgy tunes. It is set in the near future, when the planet is plagued with organ failures and desperate citizens turn to one super biotech corporation< GeneCO to save them. However, when a patient neglects to pay for their organ transplants, GeneCO sends in Repomen to reposess them. Along with a twisted premise, the film also features a very ecclectic cast, from actors like Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Paul Sorvino (Romeo and Juliet), Bill Moseley (Devil's Rejects) and Alexa Vega (Spy Kids), to musicians like Ogre and Sarah Brightman, and even famous heiress Paris Hilton.
From the very beginning, the production of Repo! The Genetic Opera has been a grassroots project of love from the people who made it and the fans who love it. From the tight budget to the constant struggles in distribution, making this film a success was no easy feat. With very few prints made and little-to-no marketing budget, the filmmakers took it upon themselves to make sure their film gets shown. In return, fans stepped up to support the project by helping out with viral promotion, creating buzz, and starting cult film traditions such as callbacks and shadow casting. With a group of talented and dedicated filmmakers and a tight-knit group of fans, it is certain that the Repo! viewing experience is truly a memorable one.
For more information on the film, please visit their official website. http://www.repo-opera.com
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