Cleveland: Group rehearses production for Pope

3:45 PM, Apr 3, 2011   |    comments
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A Cleveland group is producing a multi-media musical which will be staged in Spain for Pope Benedict XVI and World Youth Day in August.

"The Answer" is the creation of Esprit Entertainment LLC, a Cleveland-based group of media, business, and music professionals. It is one of a handful of official events selected by World Youth Day, where at least one million young people are expected to gather with the Pope.

"The answer is love. The answer is peace," explains composer Christina Dupre. "It's the message that perhaps all the prophets in history have said over and over and over. And now, it's Cleveland bringing to the world this message."

The production, which will premiere August 15 at Madrid's famous Teatros del Canal, is "a timeless musical that interacts with the new media, and high tech world of today's youth culture," says Dupre.

It will feature live actors who interact not only with each other, but with video clips that will be projected behind them. Both live and recorded music, along with other multi-media effects will be employed.

Musical numbers which must be recorded in advance are being produced at Cuyahoga Community College's Recording Arts Department. Recently, musicians and singers from France, Italy, Korea, Moldova, Brazil, China, and Canada converged on Tri-C to lay down the instrumental and vocal tracks.

"It sounds rockin'," beams Tommy Wiggins, Director of Tri-C's Recording Arts & Technology Department, and producer of the audio recordings for The Answer

"The whole idea is to have something so powerful and so universal to get this message across," Wiggins continued. "You have to use technology and you have to use big drums. And you have to have the power of a production like this. This is first class all the way."

The powerful music is the creation of Dupre, a Clevelanders originally from France, who has been working on the idea for about four years. "I wanted to get that Cleveland rock sound juxtapositioned with this international classical sound," she explained. "And that's the result of the soundtrack."

Wiggins believes Cleveland, the home of Rock and Roll, and the program he directs at Cuyahoga Community College are perfect fits for a world-class production like The Asnwer.

"We are going to be able to train, and we are going to train technical people for The Answer for the crews that are going out in these live productions," Wiggins tells WKYC. "It's fab."

With little more than four months to go until show time, and the expectation that Pope Benedict XVI himself will see at least part of the production, work has been going on behind the scenes and in venues in several countries virtually continuously. "Until the day it opens on August 15 we'll be working," Dupre says.

Professional, financial, and spiritual backers of the project are confident they have a hit which will not only draw raves at World Youth Day, but in a planned tour beginning in England following the premiere in Spain.

"This is a heavy hitting production. Nothing like this has even been done at World Youth Day," says David Thomas, a Cleveland area entertainment attorney who shot and produced much of the international video for The Answer.

"The song writing, the musical recordings and the people we have recording, the artists, as well as the musicians are all world class. It all comes together and it's a top notch, top notch production."

As for a potential audience at World Youth Day, Thomas says the possibilities are jaw-dropping "There's going to be at least a million if not two million kids there with all the heavy honchos from the Vatican and the Archbishop of Spain."

Dr. Andrew Trew, a laywer and John Carroll University bioethics professor who originally hails from England, is also part of the team. He too, has high expectations for The Answer.

"It's an international world-class musical event," Dr. Trew says. "It's really attractive to youth. It's attractive to all ages and cultures. It's got a wonderful, uplifting message, fantastic music. And it's Cleveland initiating a world class musical event that's going to set people on fire."

The Cleveland group has reached out to include performers, backers, and professionals in 17 countries in the production. The fact that the idea originated in Cleveland, and that most of the heavy lifting was done locally, is a source of inspiration and pride.

"I'm a Cleveland guy," Thomas offers proudly. "Most of the people involved are Clevelanders or have some connection to Cleveland. It just shows what we can do here. We've got world class people in Cleveland doing a world class event."

Dupre and the rest believe it's mostly the message that will resonate and make The Answer relevant to the young people at World Youth Day and beyond. "The message is one of peace and of love, and if humanity would connect to that it would solve many problems," she says.

"Our production is an example of countries coming together. And if they would try to understand one another, things can happen. Good things can happen."



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