Fides Ecclesiae: A celestial voyage at the Pantages

The curtain rises and stays raised.

Behind its footlights are nuggets of musical lores and unpublished anecdotes, which are mined from press and personal sources—setting the tone of what dwells lovingly on the triumphs and tribulations of hundreds of stars, one golden age upon another, both for the greats and lesser lights that performed here.

Behind the Pantages’ prim facade are splendid nights and hilariously bad ones—a profusion of artistic sun and storm temperaments.

It has always been like this, ever since it opened in June 1930 to a glittering crowd of celebrities. Even now, in its new surroundings, glamorous pageants go on—endowing the Pantages with an irresistible magnetism. It is patronized for its artistic, social and business prestige.

Last Sunday, an enchanting production settled briefly at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. The play was based on the lives of St. Kateri Tekawitha and St. Pedro Calungsod.

Both were martyred at a very young age, in the 17th century.

The theatrical version (which has been its first successful run at the Redondo Beach of Performing Arts Center) was written by Fr. Robert Victoria; music was composed by Fr. Adrian San Juan, expanded through  colorful characters and song and dance.

It had little bits of whimsy, without sacrificing director Vic Perez’s celestial vision.

At times, one felt an atmosphere which combined theatrical with a looser music hall, as a continuous ice breaker.

Vic is always more inspired by mood, rather than spectacle. His utter control of the performance, to the point where the performers musical values become not merely cohesive (as a group), but a single-minded extension of one core.

Ana Ramos, Ruben Quatrona, Jenna Lockwood, Frederich Mendiola—they all made Fides Ecclessiae a musical history in Los Angeles.

A thrill of enthusiasm ran through each one, impressive passages were witnessed by the audience, who listened in dead silence.

Never have we felt a holier solemnity vested in a congregation, from the performers and audience that evening.

Everyone was filled with a most solemn devotion, young and old alike.

It was like a celestial and nostalgic voyage; nostalgia into a fire range of continual spiritual exhilaration into those who live to worship God and the Church.

The sublimity of this choral music, conducted by FASO’s Maestro Robert Shroder, is awe-inspiring.

He projected the melody of spiritual beauty, with some movements slow—a gentle spiritual literature that would resonate into the concluding movements, which leapt with whirlwind motion as he took us into a lyrical flight.

The audience was breathless and into the saints’ new world, their martyrdom—from historic Cebu to Acapulco, from Mexico to the Shrine of Ladrones Islands.

The Maestro, as usual, was at his best element.

The choreography of Mimil Manosa Rosales (whom I’ll always remember as the deeply spiritual young girl, who excelled in everything she did in the field of arts. She was the recipient of the most coveted “Mother Marie Eugenie” in high school and college at the Assumption Convent) was a visual feast.

Her professional skills were shown, even in the most inexplicable sorrows and joys.

What they did not say (except upon their knees) was said and danced in Father Adrian San Jose’s palpitory composition.

Bishop Oscar Solis combined the perfect mix of both clergy and layman.

He was there for everyone, who all loved what they were doing, amid roars of joy and approval from an overexcited audience led by Consul General Helen Barber de le Vega.

Bishop Solis sang the first note and the audience applauded. When the brilliance of his interpretation got to him, he yelled the top note at the top of his voice, effortlessly.

For a moment, the audience thought that his reactions were just a touch of expression. But that’s what makes it delicious — not necessarily sad, but vulnerable.

It took a supreme level of confidence when he took the rigid spirituality and strictness of a song, turning it into something uniquely his own.

Musical shows are a collaborative art form. Everyone’s involvement in the production was total — their  enthusiasm limitless and irresistible.

Director Vic gave it its own look, approach and a style –  always with a clear, precise and unshakeable view of the production’s goals.

As the lights went up and the performers on the stage converged, the thundering applause spoke for a grateful audience.

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