Ass-Bitings & A Night At The Opera (i.e. of the Genetic Sort)
I like to think I’m a man of my word, especially when said word is given to a friend. Sometimes that word bites me in the ass. So this tale is one of those figurative ass-bitings that actually turned out OK. Allow me to explain. Over the years I have acquired more than a few friends with the artistic leaning, specifically in theater arts. I am a fan of the theater though not a dabbler in its mysteries. If you want to come laugh at the fat Jewish guy stutter then just put me on stage sometime and watch me wilt. This being said I have a deep respect for all actors and actresses. I cannot do what they do, my own self-conscious neuroses make a bad fit for such an endeavor as acting even as a casual dabbler.
So how does this tie into my figurative ass-biting moment?
One of my dearest friends, Cindi, is the director of a local stage endeavor, a “Shadowcast” of REPO: The Genetic Opera. Let’s first tackle the matter of defining Shadowcastfor those unfamiliar. Basically, take a movie of your liking and get a group of people. These people then pantomime the movie on-stage while the movie plays behind them. It’s not quite a play and its not quite mime (I think we can all be grateful for it not being mime). Along the way there might be some touches or flares added to the stage portion and of course there may be some unplanned mishaps along the way. The most famous shadowcast is probably The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a movie I am absolutely not a fan of and I have not liked the shadowcasts I’ve seen of it, a total of which is a staggering 3 times, probably even less. So when my friend made me promise that I would go see her cast’s performance of REPO “one day”, it was a promise I had to keep.
Now let me make these matters even worse for myself. I have a few friends in this cast and another one of them, Breann, she of the sunny smile, was very excited that she was going to be performing as a member the cast for the next peformance. So when she excitedly told me her “good news” I let out a sigh and uttered the words “Well now I have to go see this thing”. Breann assured me that she wasn’t going to make me go nor was I obligated to attend. Well, I actually was obligated to attend a performance already thanks to Cindi but my plan was to string that promise along until I was so utterly senile that I could watch the performance and then quickly forget it, thus fulfilling my obligation without having to do harm to my poor brain, since that would already be mush from my own dotage. That plan was down the drain because Breann is one of those people I just cannot say no to. Her version of “You don’t have to come” is sincere but it is almost too sincere. Sincere to the point where you have to breakdown and show up (trust me this makes sense if you know the girl). So now it was 2 people that I gave my word to and to make matters worse I was now obligated to attend the next show on April 30th 2011. There was no backing out, I gave my word.
Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you what REPO: The Genetic Opera is about. If you haven’t seen the movie you at least have access to the internet (I mean c’mon dumbass, this is a blog! DUH!) and can find out for yourself, I mean fuck, Wikipedia is there for a reason people. The thing is, I had already seen the movie for REPO and honestly, didn’t like it that much. Ask any friend of mine and they will tell you, I’m super picky about my movies, even my bad movies. As a rule I generally do not like musicals. There are a few exceptions to this but I’m not going to list them here, though I can tell you that one of them deals with duping the Nazis and anything that involves duping the Nazis does my Jewish heart proud. I find needing to throw music and dance numbers into a narrative of a stage show means the writers are trying to dazzle the viewer to make them forget that their basic story is actually pretty fucking weak. Ironically this is not how I feel about opera. I love good opera and the difference between a musical and opera is that the entire narrative for opera is in song thus one element compliments the other and that isn’t always the case with musicals, in fact it rarely is. Now when you whip out something like a Rock Opera, which REPO definitely IS, then you are blurring the lines between musical and opera a bit too much. Hell most modern musicals come very close to being Rock Opera anyway, almost dangerously so. Now I know that there are many who disagree with my view on this and that’s fine but that’s my view and has been for a long time, so the odds of that view changing are quite slim.
So where was I?
Oh, I went to the shadowcast for REPO: The Genetic Opera. I went with my friend Katrina. We have vastly different opinions about this movie. Needless to say, she is a fan of musicals, so that right there puts us at odds. Now the shadowcast for this cast was a big deal this time out because it marked the 2nd anniversary for this production or as they call it “REPrOduction” (you have no idea how dirty I feel for typing that word and I use words like “cromulent”, “embiggen” and sometimes “lognostics”). Now the Toledo Production of REPO isn’t the only shadowcast of this movie out there. Apparently this movie is spawning more and more productions across the country like some Jim Jones inspired cult. I can’t sit there and lie and say the movie itself does not have a hardcore and devoted fanbase. What’s more, the creators of the movie support the shadowcast movement and even sent congratulations to the Toledo cast on their 2nd Anniversary. That was pretty classy and it shows the creators truly appreciate the support people give their film and that the love between the fans and creators is a 2-way street.
I have to be honest, I was dreading this experience. I mean I straight out expected the shadowcast to be amateurish, distracting and “Oh my god I have to look away, its so fucking awful!” bad. I mean, I really don’t like the movie so the odds were stacked against this production from the outset. I was going into this with low expectations, so low that I was sure I wouldn’t be able to look Cindi or Breann (or any of the other people I know who were involved) in the eye when the inevitable questions of “So?” or “did you like it” would eventually arise. I sat through the whole thing, only getting up to use the bathroom once (I had held in a wicked piss from 5 minutes in until maybe 2 minutes before “At The Opera Tonight” so give me some fucking credit will you?). I sat through it all and I came away… charmed!
The performers in the shadowcast enhanced my second viewing of this movie. There were some original touches added here and there and enough sly humor injected into what they were doing that I found myself laughing quite a bit. There was a mishap involving a certain cast member’s pants, that actually wasn’t planned from what I was told, but it was pulled off so well that I never would have guessed it was a gaffe. Most importantly, you could tell that a lot of hard work and love went into what was being done and that is what added to the fun of the show. People who are passionate about what they are doing always add to the entertainment value of anything. I came away smiling. Hell it has made me almost forgive Cindi for all the times she has held-up my Saturday night gaming group for her rehearsals. Could this cast be so damn charming that they’ve charmed away my skepticism and curmudgeonly view on the movie itself?
Well no, I mean it is still a movie I do not like. It isn’t Cemetery Man bad or Beastmaster bad. I can’t slam the production of the movie itself because it has some pretty good production values and an amazing (and a little bit surprising) cast. Honestly, I cannot say a bad thing about anything with Paul Sorvino… well maybe Dick Tracy. The movie does nothing for me. But man the cast for the REPrOduction (still feel dirty) made this movie watchable, something I could never say about the movie on its own. I had a genuine smile leaving the theater and really walked out with a new respect for what Cindi and the cast put into their production. So keeping my word bites me in the ass but in this case I do not mind the figurative bite at all. In fact I rather enjoyed it. I got away with not having to do any of the audience participation (sorry, this little black duck didn’t “Testify” and you can’t make me) but still came away from it all with a better appreciation and respect for the cast and crew of this particular shadowcast. Hell I might even go to the next performance… MIGHT~!
So let me wrap this up with a GIANT “Thank You” to Cindi, Breann, Zac, Squee, Krystal and the rest of the cast of REPrOduction, The Official Toledo Shadowcast of REPO: The Genetic Opera. I only know a few of you but everyone deserves huge credit for the good time I had. I might be a tad less cynical about this thing you do and really, to make me less cynical about anything is no mean feat at all.
No, no you ain’t gonna get me to say it, at least not yet… but hope does spring eternal!