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May 6, 2017

Genetic Imperfection shadows soon-to-be cult classic “Repo”

On Friday, Oct. 30, Genetic Imperfection of South Hadley presented their first annual Halloween production of “Repo: The Genetic Opera” at the Academy of Music in Northampton.

The group of performers mimicked, or “shadowed,” the every movement of the 2008 film, as it was shown on a screen behind them.

The troupe, which started this past March, was the brainchild of Amanda Taylor, one of the directors of a local “Rocky Horror Picture Show” shadow cast.

“The first time I heard about [“Repo”], it was being promoted at a ‘Rocky Horror’ convention,” Taylor said. “There was a lot of interest for a shadow cast among the ‘Rocky Horror’ cast and fans.”

Since then, the group has earned some fame among fans of “Repo.” Co-author, illustrator and star of the film Terrance Zdunich, attended the show Friday night and has endorsed Sean Hurt, who shadows the role Zdunich created, as his personal favorite. They are also the only recognized “Repo” shadow cast in western Massachusetts.

“It’s great that Terrance said that about me, but what it’s about is the fans, and the moment when you can’t hear the film behind you because everyone’s cheering,” Hurt said.

“Repo” takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where there was an epidemic of organ failure. A company called GeneCo becomes a worldwide monopoly in financing in organ transplants. “Repo” focuses in on the journey of Shilo, the 17-year-old daughter of a widowed Repo man, whose job is repossessing organs when clients cannot pay GeneCo back.

The film has a small, though “insanely dedicated [group of] fans,” from across the country, as Zdunich described in his opening speech. There are only 36 recognized casts in the United States that present “Repo” either weekly or monthly. Many are part of or linked to “Rocky Horror” casts.

The similarities between the two are remarkable. In both, the writer or writers play roles in the film. Richard O’Brien wrote and played butler Riff Raff in “Rocky Horror,” while Zdunich played Graverobber and co-author Darren Smith played the Bandleader. Additionally, their fans are often the same. Many dress up as characters for performances.

Though it has not reached the notoriety of “Rocky Horror,” “Repo” has the potential to have the same kind of following. It is already developing.

“Repo” has an eclectic and interesting mix of actors, including former “Spy Kids” star Alexa Vega, Bill Moseley and Paris Hilton.

In the question and answer session, Zdunich spoke about the casting process, taking a swipe at Hilton in the process.

“The script spoke to each of them [the actors],” Zdunich said. “Someone might have had to read it to Paris, but it spoke to her.

For several months, a sequel to “Repo” has been both a film industry and fan rumor. To that, Zdunich explained, “the future of ‘Repo’ is going to come down to how everything goes financially.”

“The people that financed the film aren’t even aware that it’s still playing in theaters,” Zdunich said.

As Genetic Imperfection and three dozen other casts prove, it is still playing all over the United States. There are also two Canadian casts and one British cast.

Genetic Imperfection shadows “Repo: The Genetic Opera” on the last Friday of each month at the Tower Theaters in South Hadley. Tickets are $7.50 each, and can be purchased at the box office.

Alissa Mesibov can be reached at amesibov@student.umass.edu

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