In 1531, in the newly conquered land then known as New Spain, a series of unexplained— some might say miraculous— events occurred that would change the world forever. That incredible true tale is now the basis of GUADALUPE: THE MUSICAL, a brand-new theatrical production in English, presented by the Julie Borromeo Performing Arts Foundation.
And what a tale it is! A ghostly apparition… a skeptical bishop… a brutal overlord… a dying man brought back from the brink of death. “The story of Juan Diego of Guadalupe is practically a musical already,” quips Borromeo, who is both producer and (along with Rose Borromeo) choreographer of the show. “But what makes this story different is all the supernatural elements in it that simply can’t be explained.” Of these there are many, and all a matter of public record: the painted images on Juan Diego’s now famous tilma (or apron), which show no evidence of any brushstrokes, and whose pigments come from a source unknown to nature; the seeming impenetrability of the cloth from which it was made; the mysterious recovery of Juan Diego’s dying uncle; the list goes on and on.
But although it deals in the miraculous, GUADALUPE: THE MUSICAL, which stars stage icon Cocoy Laurel as Juan Diego, is not a conventional faith-based show. “It’s not a ‘religious’ musical as such,” declares theater legend Baby Barredo, who directs the piece. “It’s a powerful piece of theater that just happens to contain religious elements.” It’s an important distinction, and one that drove the creation of the show from the start.
For scriptwriter and lyricist Joel Trinidad and composer Ejay Yatco, the creative task was to use factual, historical events as a backdrop for a true story that contains some fictional elements. “Some of the most popular musicals in the world combine fact and fiction this way,” shares Yatco. “MISS SAIGON, EVITA, LES MISERABLES… The list goes on and on.” But how can GUADALUPE audiences tell fact from fiction? “You’ll see some things in this show that seem completely implausible,” says Trinidad with a smile. “Those are the ones that really happened.”
The Julie Borromeo Arts Foundation presents GUADALUPE: THE MUSICAL. September 28 to October 14, 2018 at the Meralco Theater. E-mail Ria Pangilinan at firstname.lastname@example.org for fundraising opportunities.