Thursday, November 27, 2008

Coming Next Week: The Heritance - An Assumption Grotto Theatrical Production (includes Detroit Free Press interview with Fr. Perrone)

I have been wanting to tell you about the latest original, theatrical production at Assumption Grotto which will take place on the following days:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008 (7:00 pm)
Friday, December 5, 2008 (7:00 pm)
Sunday, December 7, 2008 (3:00 pm)

For tickets and more information: 313 372-0762

Parking can be an issue at Assumption Grotto. There is a secure lot, but I would encourage you to get there early. Last year, the final performance had so many people, they had to delay the start of the show as people looked for a place to park.

I was also alerted to this wonderful interview in the Detroit Free Press with our pastor, Fr. Eduard Perrone who wrote the music. Several members of the Detroit Symphony will be in the orchestra, as they were in Palla Eius. I'm providing a link to the article, but it may disappear offline after a few weeks so I am also adding the text and picture here that appeared in the Thanksgiving Day 2008 issue of the Detroit Free Press.

When the Assumption Grotto Catholic Church decided to put on a show to commemorate its 175th anniversary last year, organizers thought it might attract a few hundred people. Instead, nearly 1,600 folks filled folding chairs in the church's old gym auditorium over three weekend performances.

This success has led to a second, even more ambitious musical production, again composed and conducted by the church's pastor, the Rev. Eduard Perrone. It's being performed Wednesday and Dec. 5 and 7.

Set in the 1920s, "The Heritance" is the story of a man, made mean by the death of his wife, who softens when he meets an orphan girl.

The show includes 45 cast members (many of them children) and 12 musicians, including some members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Perrone, 60, has been pastor at the historic church for 14 years. As the son of Detroit big band musician Phil Perrone, he comes by his love of music naturally. A graduate of Cass Tech High School, he also studied composing and conducting at the University of Louisville and the Aspen School of Music before becoming a priest.

QUESTION: How do you describe the musical style of "The Heritance"?

ANSWER: There's a little of everything in this work: Broadway-style music, romance, jazz, fugue, etc. The music is modern but singable. ... I especially enjoy the instrumental pieces, which afford me a chance to test my writing skills.

Q: How does the parish community (or the community in general) benefit from these theatrical works?

A: Theater with music has a way of lifting people from the tedium and worry of their ordinary lives and makes them aspire to great things. Among those who greeted the last musical with particular appreciation were many beyond our own parish. I could see that there was a sincere interest in doing more of the same and offering it for the wider community.

Q: Children are a huge part of the show. What do you think they take away from this experience?

A: Children have a remarkable capacity to do things well beyond what is usually expected of them. With direction and instruction, our kids have proved their capabilities to act, sing, dance and to develop their personalities through theater. The educational value of this kind of experience for youth is inestimable.

Q: What do you want to say in "The Heritance," especially in response to what you have called (in the show's press release) "the vacuum of evil" that now defines popular music, TV, literature and film?

A: Yes, I think the message of popular music, especially rock music, has demoralized our kids, hopefully not our kids, or your kids, but then again, who's to say?

The show is a modern morality play, but very subtle. There are religious themes in it, but they are not bathed in halos or religious sentimentality. There's humor, sadness and love, as well as faith.

Theater, I think, should be uplifting, inspirational, and there should be a catharsis involved, causing the audience to go back into the light of day enthused and renewed.

Q: What has been the response from the Catholic archdiocese?

A: Priests, some nuns and a bishop attended last year and were very supporting and even surprised at the level of our achievement. It helps put a good face on the church as a supporter of the arts, a role it had historically but with which it is not so often associated today.


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