“El Último viaje de San Pablo” - PUC’s 2009 Musical Shines

Imagine about a hundred university students coming together to put on a two-and-a-half hour musical in their spare time. It could entail a makeshift, lousy production complete with flat, white light illuminating the stage, a screeching choir and a couple of musicians huddled below the stage adding some bland touches. But no, the Pontificia Universdad Católica’s musical “El Último viaje de San Pablo” (The last journey of Saint Paul) is a bright exception.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Elaine Madrigal

Inside Casa Central, stands were selling sweetened popcorn, chips, sodas and even bottles of wine, the latter intended for home consumption rather than theater consumption. Groups of ushers surprisingly were escorting attendees to their seats and fortunately, these surprises weren’t the only ones in store for the evening of musical and theatrical enjoyment.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Elaine Madrigal

The PUC’s Pastoral has sponsored the university’s religiously-themed musical for the past four years. This year’s musical was an original work written and composed by Juan Pablo Rojas and José Antonio Poblete with production overseen by M. Alejandra García. When asked about the inspiration behind this year’s work, García referenced the Roman Catholic Church’s recently passed 2008-2009 Pauline jubilee year.

The two-act musical explains its history so that even those unfamiliar with Saint Paul will not lose out on the entertainment. The musical focuses on Saint Paul’s journey to Rome to face Caesar for his trial through which he is faced by taunts and persecution by the ship’s crew and passengers.

The performance by the actors was lively, with a surprising note that very few of them were actually theater students. The students participating ranged from engineering to medicine students. Some actors stood out for their vocal abilities, some channeling a little of Freddie Mercury’s vocals. The cast even made their way through intricate dance numbers on a full stage, synchronized to even fit in some swing moves.

The music stands out, by far, as the best part of the musical. The intense strings and percussion kept guests on the edges of their seats and even made some unknowingly break out into air guitar while tapping their feet.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Elaine Madrigal

The music’s powerful and moving composition allowed even those with limited Spanish skills to enjoy the performance. René Silva conducted the 39-musician orchestra through the rock-opera style pieces that surely kept the attendees humming for days. Although, the musical is very religious in its content, even non-religious, musical fans can appreciate its music and comedic moments.

For those that missed out on the four showings that took place recently in Santiago, a DVD of the musical is being sold that will include interviews and clips of the making of the musical. The DVDs are being sold for CP$6,000 (US$11.00) at the Pastorals of each PUC campus and will be ready for sale in mid-September.

Work on next year’s musical is rumored to already be underway. The theme, however, is so secret that García admited that even she does not know what it is.

If next year’s musical follows in “El Último viaje de San Pablo’s” path, it is sure to capture audience members’ attention with a professional performance by a stellar orchestra, a knock-out singing cast and a story that shows its months of preparation and dedication.

PUC Musical “El Último viaje de San Pablo”

DVDs for sale at all PUC campuses’ Pastorals (CP$6,000)
Casa Central Pastoral:
Alameda 340, Patio Juan Pablo II, first floor
Metro Stop: Universidad Católica
For more locations, visit: http://www.pastoraluc.cl/web5/contenido_ver.php?id=78

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