Pil­grims seek out De­grassi alumni

Cana­dian show tests lim­its of se­ries’ fan­dom at comic book con­ven­tions

The Niagara Falls Review - - ENTERTAINMENT - DAVID FRIEND De­grassi De­grassi De­grassi: The Next Gen­er­a­tion The Next Class.” De­grassi De­grassi. Who, Star Wars De­grassi. Doc­tor De­grassi De­grassi The Phan­tom Men­ace, Star Wars: De­grassi

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

TORONTO — Bos­ton res­i­dent Dee Moore rushed her U.S. pass­port and booked a flight to Toronto for the chance to see some of her favourite cast mem­bers to­gether again. While the 22-yearold had long planned to make a pil­grim­age to the home­town of her favourite TV se­ries, the op­por­tu­nity to join hun­dreds of fel­low fans at Toronto’s ComiCon over the week­end seemed too good to ig­nore. “We used to watch re­runs of

— like the Drake era,” Moore says, lay­ing out her loy­alty.

“Then I re-watched all 500 episodes, from the (orig­i­nal), all the way through to

Her friend Corean Reynolds, 25, chimes in with a dis­tinctly Chicagoan ac­cent: “I think we would kick ass in a trivia com­pe­ti­tion, for sure.”

Dressed in out­fits in­spired by the 1980s char­ac­ters of De­grassi Ju­nior High, they joined other fans in wit­ness­ing a re­union of the ac­tors who played Joey Jeremiah, Snake, Caitlin and Tessa, billed as a cel­e­bra­tion of the show’s 30th an­niver­sary.

No other Cana­dian show has left an im­pres­sion quite like The fran­chise built its cult fan base — which ex­tends into the United States — by tack­ling real-life is­sues rarely por­trayed by other shows.

Some say helped them come out to their par­ents, while oth­ers con­sid­ered it an es­sen­tial re­source for top­ics like rape, drug ad­dic­tion and divorce.

Miria Fur­tado showed the se­ries to her daugh­ters when she wanted to open con­ver­sa­tions about awk­ward so­cial top­ics. Her daugh­ter Mi­randa says

ex­posed her to is­sues about race and re­li­gion that she might’ve never oth­er­wise en­coun­tered.

“We got to see a dif­fer­ent light,” she says. “It’s def­i­nitely shaped how I can talk to my fu­ture kids.”

Shar­ing space at ComiCon with events cater­ing to the geek­dom of end­less fran­chises like

and var­i­ous Mar­vel su­per­heroes might seem like an usual play for a less fan­tas­ti­cal show like

The ex­per­i­ment was mas­ter­minded by Joey Jeremiah — or ac­tor Pat Mas­troianni if you’re liv­ing in the real world.

Af­ter mak­ing the con­ven­tion rounds by him­self for years, with his trade­mark fe­dora in tow, he de­cided to bring a few cast­mates.

“I kept get­ting asked the same ques­tions: ‘What is Snake like in real life?’ or ‘What­ever hap­pened to Tessa?’ ” Mas­troianni says, re­fer­ring to his co-stars’ char­ac­ters.

“I wanted to do some­thing where we could thank the fans for be­ing there for us. Mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions of fans.”

He started mak­ing calls last year, herd­ing to­gether a class re­union of sev­eral cast mem­bers — in­clud­ing Stefan Bro­gren (Snake), Sta­cie Mistysyn (Caitlin Ryan), and Kirsten Bourne (Tessa Cam­pan­elli). Dis­cus­sions be­gan for a more am­bi­tious ef­fort to can­vas the coun­try’s big­gest comic con­ven­tions and test the loy­al­ties of the faith­ful.

Stops in cities like Ottawa and Regina are planned in the com­ing months.

Of course, the event in Toronto was about more than just re­unit­ing to share mem­o­ries.

As the late Car­rie Fisher once jok­ingly put it, swap­ping cash for the fleet­ing pres­ence of a fa­mous per­son is ba­si­cally a “celebrity lap dance.”

So a few seats down from re­tired wrestler Bret (The Hit­man), Hart and ac­tor Ray Park, best known for play­ing Darth Maul in

the De­grassi cast made their play.

Au­to­graphs and self­ies from each ac­tor cost $30 a pop, while there was a dis­counted price if you bun­dled the group.

Dan Woods, who played De­grassi’s Prin­ci­pal Ra­ditch, lugged in ironic T-shirts to sell, em­bla­zoned with the words “Ra­ditch At­ti­tude with Drake Feel­ings.” Mas­troianni hopes to keep the

con­ven­tion en­gine chug­ging this year. The group has talked about other cast mem­bers ap­pear­ing at fu­ture events, if the de­mand shows it­self.

“We still have to kind of test it,” says Mistysyn, who’s along for the ride as she dou­bles as a stay-ath­ome mom.

“This was good. This was fun. And we’ll see how Ottawa goes.”

CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Stefan Bro­gan, cen­tre right, and Pat Mas­troianni ham it up for a photo while Sta­cie Mistysyn, left, Kirsten Bourne and Roger Mont­gomery chat as for­mer cast mem­bers of the tele­vi­sion show De­grassi make an ap­pear­ance at Toronto Comicon, on Sun­day.

ROBERT VIGLASKY/CBS FILMS

Char­lotte Ram­pling, left, and Jim Broad­bent from The Sense of an End­ing, a film based on the novel by Ju­lian Barnes.

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