Thesps sign up for key roles in 'Genetic Opera'

Twisted Pictures and Lionsgate have set a Sept. 9 start date and cast Paul Sorvino and Alexa Vega (“Spy Kids”) in key roles for “Repo! The Genetic Opera.” Strange as it sounds, the hustle to get “Repo!” into production sets up a race with a rival Universal pic with a similar theme involving the repossession of transplanted human organs.

“Repo!” focuses on a cruel entrepreneur who creates genetically perfect organs that everybody needs in 2056, and who is content to send in a repo man if the recipient can’t make payments. Universal recently set Forest Whitaker and Jude Law to star in “The Repossession Mambo,” a Miguel Sapochnik-directed futuristic satire about an organ repo man who runs when he can’t pay his own bill. That film is expected to get under way around the same time.

“Repo!” is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, whose “Saw IV” will be released by Lionsgate on Oct. 26. The screenwriters-composers are Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich, and Twisted Pictures is financing. Dan Heffner, Carl Mazzocone, Mark Burg and Oren Koules are producing.

Though the subject matter is familiar, only “Repo!” has the operatic twist, featuring 55 musical compositions from various musical genres. That fit well with Sorvino, an accomplished operatic tenor who will play the villainous owner of organ-maker Geneco. Vega, who just did “Hairspray” on Broadway, plays a young girl who discovers her father is a repo man and essentially an indentured servant to the Geneco owner.

“I’ve never seen or heard of a film quite like this one, but the story is fascinating and the imagination at work here is colossal,” said Sorvino, who also noted that “Repo!” gives him his first onscreen shot to “really sing opera.”

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