Imperial Theatre movie shoot goes to the vampires

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In its fourth year, the Poison Peach Film Festival was a success in founder Chris Forbes’ mind.

“Attendance at the first two nights was really great,” he said. “I’m really pleased.”

Forbes was dressed in black topped with a floor-length black cape, white powder on his face and dark makeup under his eyes for the live production in the festival’s final night.

Sunday evening, Forbes directed and produced a scene for a full-length “vampire musical” called Miss Strangelove at the Imperial Theatre on Broad Street.

Forbes did the same thing last year. He filmed a live production of one of the scenes from Confederate Zombie, which Forbes premiered a raw-cut version of on Friday night. A lot of the same local extras came back to be in Miss Strangelove, which Forbes hopes to premier at next year’s festival.

It was a flurry of shouted directions and hurried movements Sunday evening as the dancers, singers and actors prepared for the live shoot. The lobby filled with Augustans dressed in black for their parts as extra vampires, waiting to be let in for their big screen moment.

Miss Strangelove is a love story at heart and modeled after the Phantom of the Opera, in that there are musical numbers interspersed with straight dialog, Forbes said. But the big musical number being filmed Sunday was all about gore. Six “vampire assassins” start the scene on the stage dancing while a woman is resurrected in a “transformation celebration” behind them. As the assassins move offstage and into the audience, they wield long swords and proceed to dismember the vampire extras.

After a first run-through, Forbes’ director persona took over.

“I’m not going to stop the music this time,” he told them. “What I am going to do is run around and tell you what to do if you’re doing it wrong.”

The dancer assassins are members of a local company who usually focus on belly-dancing, said Shohannah Estell, the artistic director and co-owner of Hip to Hip Studios, of Columbia County. Sunday was the first time they performed in a movie together.

“I think it’s really cool,” Estell said. “It has a really nice energy and we’re always up for more challenges.”

Joe Zuchowski, whose wife, Jezibel Anat, was playing one of the priestesses transforming the woman in the center of the scene, showed the dancers the eight go-to sword moves backstage with the cardboard swords he had made for the scene.

Zuchowski and Anat lived in New York and New Jersey until moving to the area to take care of her sick mother. They were involved in local theater up north and wanted to continue in Augusta.

“We’ve been getting involved in as many local activities as possible,” he said. “We’re excited to be here.”


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