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Saturday night the Amber’s Sweets “Repo! The Genetic Opera” shadowcast celebrated its one-year anniversary with a bang by performing in front of a very enthusiastic crowd and several special guests from the film.
In attendance Saturday was Nivek Ogre, who plays the role of Pavi Largo, a character known in the film for wearing other people’s faces on his own as well as his panty-snatching antics. Ogre is also known among “Repo!” fans for his work with the industrial band Skinny Puppy and for his solo project, OhGr.
Actor Bill Moseley (“House of 1000 Corpses,” “The Devil’s Rejects” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II”) also made an appearance. In the film, Moseley plays Pavi Largo’s homicidal brother, Luigi, and the two form sort of an Abbot and Costello pairing while they fight over which of them will inherit their father’s company.
“Repo!’s” co-creator, Darren Smith, and wife Nancy Long attended the show for the third time. Smith not only came out to meet and greet his fans, but he also came to support his wife, who performed in an a capella trio called “The Cans” along with two other famous people from the “Repo!” world – Corrie Shenigo and Alisa Burket. Shenigo is known for singing the original demo from one of the songs from “Repo!” called “Infected,” while Burket plays an evil henchwoman in the movie.
“It’s really cool to know that we have such an awesome cast and that all the famous people wanna come see us,” said Kirsten Wilkins, who plays Single Mom.
As always, the line to get into the Colonial Theater stretched around the corner, and the parking lot was full.
Vendors inside the theater offered fans everything from nearly impossible-to-find horror DVDs to excellent-quality Amber’s Sweets swag. There were even blue glowsticks available for purchase so that Z-addicted audience members could satisfy their craving for some late-night Zydrate like their favorite characters in the movie.
The Cans were first to take the stage. The trio sang a song called “One Meatball” in the spirit of the Andrews Sisters. This was followed by a rendition of “Thankless Job,” a song in “Repo!” where The Repoman inserts his hand inside the torso of a corpse and makes him talk like a puppet. Smith joined his wife on stage and provided the backing vocals for the “puppet.”
The audience roared its approval when the lights turned off and the previews started. At an Amber Sweets “Repo!” show, even the previews are “Repo!” and horror-movie-themed. The crowd favorite (as always) was probably the metal-singing hard-rock animated snack bar characters. With an evil Nacho on drums, a multi-pierced Dot candy lead singer and a hardcore pretzel playing the guitar, the wholesome and “normal” snack foods got kicked off the screen. Meanwhile the audience got an earful of hilarious death-metal with lyrics such as “Don’t talk. Watch!” and “Your money is now our money!”
Geeks and movie buffs alike cheered while a very creative plot explanation inspired by the beginning credits of “Star Wars” introduced “Repo!” and the show finally started.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that each time the Sweets perform, the show gets better.
“Every show we have special guests, and we do better each time,” said director Ashley Porciuncula.
Since the last show featured a gunshot to the head that sprayed about 15 feet into the air, it would seem hard to believe that the special effects could get any more impressive. However, for every knife slash there was blood that sprayed, and for every organ repossession, there were “souvenirs” tossed into the audience.
The cast members pay attention to detail, especially when it comes to being responsible for their own roles. All the characters have costumes and accessories that match those of their on-screen counterparts. Each of their gestures is timed to match what’s happening on the screen, and if it can’t be reproduced exactly, then the cast comes up with a creative way to portray it. For instance, this time around, for a scene where Rotti Largo rides around in a car with Shilo, Justin Boeser (who plays Rotti) rolled around stage on a little scooter to humorously simulate the motion of a car.
“I think one of my favorite parts was probably Rotti strolling around on his little scooter,” Ogre said. “I like the little things – I like the jazz hands, I like the little parts that they put in that are kind of, not making fun of it, but taking the laugh along with it. I liked the way that they incorporated a lot of the visuals up on the wall. It kind of brings everybody into the scene.”
Another fun aspect to Saturday’s show was the Christmas decorations incorporated ever so cleverly into the scenes and the set. In Shilo’s room, a stocking hung on the wall, and nearly every character wore a Santa hat at some point during the show.
Because it’s part of the experience of attending a shadowcast, the audience might mock and jeer at the characters on stage as well as at the movie, but the actors certainly take their roles seriously.
“We don’t make fun of the production,” explained Elisabeth Evans, who played Amber Sweet. “We don’t mock it. We try to pay homage to it and make it the best that it can be. We want to give it credit and do it as real as possible. We maybe add a little humor here and there, but nothing that would demoralize it or degrade it in any way.”
“We kind of take things to a new level,” elaborated Catt Miller, who plays Shilo Wallace. “I don’t think we’re technically considered a shadowcast anymore. We’re more of a live performance cast.”
Immediately following the show was a very brief question-and-answer session with Smith, Ogre and Moseley. Ogre and Moseley discussed their plans for future projects (more movies for Moseley and new OhGr and Skinny Puppy records for Ogre), and Smith delighted fans by claiming that a special director’s cut of “Repo!” with all the deleted scenes included was in the works.
Following the Q and A, tables were set up where fans were able to get autographs and take photos with all the special guests.
Now that the Sweets have proved they’re here to stay, the next thing on their plate is an understudy performance.
“After this show, we are going to be doing an understudy show, which means the understudies of all the main characters will play the main roles for that show,” clarified Dani Fontana, who plays Graverobber. “So next show you probably won’t see me as Graverobber. So basically, we’ll be like extras or whatever.”
It’s obvious that the Amber’s Sweets “Repo!” cast is not an ordinary shadowcast, especially since so many people involved with the real movie have come out to show their support.
“I thought the whole show was fantastic,” Moseley said. “I’ve seen maybe 10 or 12 different shadowcasts, and this was by far, like head and shoulders above anything I’ve seen. This was amazing.”
Even though the Sweets cast members have had the opportunity to mingle with so many of their personal heroes, it still never gets old for them to know that they’ve brought new life to the film.
“The most memorable moment (for me) was when Darren Smith told me that my performance in ‘Legal Assassin’ was the best he had seen,” said Tim Meunier, who is the show’s producer and also plays Nathan Wallace/The Repoman on stage. “I wear that compliment on my heart and soul."
For more information on the Amber’s Sweets cast, including information on future performances, check out amberssweets.com. For footage of complete interviews with all cast members and special guests, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/FarTooFrailChez?feature=mhum.
All photos courtesy of David Alvarez