Pope Francis musical wows theater goers

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    ANGELES CITY –“A superb performance!” was how  most of the audience rated the matinee presentation of  the      Kapampangan-produced stage musical “I Love (expressed  in the symbol of a heart) Pope Francis – The Musical”     at the Holy Angel University  Theater here on Friday.

    This was also the reaction of the members of the  Capampangan  in Media, Inc. (CAMI),  who were invited to the show by the production’s creator  and director Andy   Alviz.  CAMI Vice President Ernie  Tolentino said he was awed by what he described as a topnotch  musical on the  life of  Pope Francis that has the potentials of becoming a blockbuster  not only in the Philippines  but overseas as   well because  of its global appeal. 

    Tolentino also praised Alviz and the cast, who were mostly  amateur (volunteer)  thespians  of Pampanga, on how they  carried out the musical. Most of the audience was  captivated by the 24 original songs of the musical as well  as the near flawless performance of the cast – a mixture of mature and young   actors, with two actors barely in their  teens, despite technical glitzes such as the unpleasant sound  system.

    It was learned that even the audience that attended its  maiden staging on Nov. 29 at the same venue was wowed  by the  play. 

    The production touched on  the life of the Pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina,  from his young  days  in Argentina, where he even worked as a bouncer before  entering the priesthood, to the time when he  became knownas a bishop of the street for identifying with the poor, to his rise to the papacy, and the Filipinos’  “joyful” anticipation and his visit to the country (fictionally named San Felipe in the  play) in January.

    It was this essence – the character of the Pope, the circumstances of his rise to the  Vatican hierarchy and the “surprising”  manner by which he’s  carrying out his job as a leader of the more than a billion Catholics  in the world and the people’s  positive reaction to all he what he says and does – that  this stage production captured vividly which explains the audience’s  ecstatic reaction to the musical. 

    This excited air of anticipation, even before the doors  to the theater were opened to let the crowd in, was clearly  felt among the prospective Kapampangan audience, many of whom may have been told of the “happy experience”  by those that watched the musical’s maiden staging   on Nov. 29.

    That “happy experience”  felt by those who have viewed  the musical may be attributed to the  seamless progression of the play scene after scene  marked by the interplay of humor, wit and kindness.

    It was obvious, especially during the early scenes of the  musical’s first part, those in the audience were so enthralled  by  what they’re viewing they were, initially, at a loss on how  to react: whether to applause or not at the end of  each scene, laugh loudly at the witty  repartee, or even respond tothe call for public participation in some parts of the play.

    But it did not take long for  the crowd to catch on and let  their hair down, so to speak, in expressing their  feelings throughout the play that, not  surprisingly, gave the musical and the actors a standing ovation.  They, too,  obviously had the “happy experience” felt by those who watched the musical  earlier.

    Last Friday’s crowd apparently   felt proud that an all-Filipino  group, made up mostly of amateur thespians consisting  of students, priests, lay leaders  and society matrons, could  produce such a musical that could equal those that have  been churned out on  Broadway in the US or even London  and other theater capitals in the world.

    “It definitely is an experience to watch  this musical on  Pope Francis and everyone in  this country must see it and they will definitely fall in love  with it,”  CAMI’s Abel Cruz said.  Alviz had earlier told CAMI  members that he collaborated on the musical with writer-lyricist Randy del Rosario with the Arti.Sta Rita and the Teatru  Kapampangan.

    Another play is set on Jan.  10, 2015, also at he HAU Theater.  Alviz said plans are now being worked out for the musical’s  presentation at the Cultural Center  of the Philippines (CCP) next year, in cooperation  with the Rotary International. 

    Bookings are also now   being  arranged for the musical’s run next year in Cebu, Iloilo  and other key cities in the country and, hopefully, in  London and finally, Rome, Alviz said.  Part of the proceeds of the musical’s presentation will go to  Teatru  Kapampangan’s beneficiary  – the AeTahanan, a dormitory  in Sta. Rita that houses Aetas taking up college.    

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