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The Warsaw Voice » Stage & Screen » April 6, 2017
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Polish Pope in Musical
April 6, 2017   
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A new musical hitting the stage this winter recounts the life of Karol Wojtyła, the man who became Pope John Paul II.

Entitled Karol, the musical premiered Feb. 25 at Poland’s largest entertainment venue in the southern city of Krakow.

With some 200 people involved in the production, the show aspires to live up to the size of Krakow’s Tauron Arena venue with an ensemble of almost 40 singers, actors and dancers, backed by 60 extras, in addition to sets, lighting equipment and multimedia installations that take three semi-trailer trucks to transport.

Featuring mostly contemporary music, Karol is directed by Krzysztof Korwin-Piotrowski, the artistic director of the Music Theater in Gliwice, one of Poland’s best musical theater companies. The Karol score was written by multi-instrumentalist and composer Filip Siejka, who works with top Polish rock, pop and jazz performers.

Along with popular pop and rock musicians, the star-studded show features some of the best theater actors and variety show performers from Warsaw and southern Poland. The music is played live by an ensemble including rock guitars, violins, a grand piano and drums. Audiences are also in for an impressive choreography enhanced by acrobatic performances and laser lights.

The gimmicks aside, the stage sets are intended to be rather simple so as not to distract audiences from the story. Part of the design are three LED screens, the largest one measuring 11 by 8 meters.

Michał Kaczmarczyk, who wrote the book and the lyrics, says the show uses music, dance, multimedia sets and lighting effects to tell the story of Karol Wojtyła from his childhood until his death on April 2, 2005.

“The plot has been built so as to show key 20th-century events through Wojtyła’s biography, from the colorful and merry interwar period and the tragedy of World War II, to the rise of the Solidarity movement and the fall of communism,” says Kaczmarczyk. “Our story of the pope is one of warmth and amusing anecdotes, but it also comes with some dramatic twists. The musical is about a cheerful man whose sense of humor, creative passions and love for people became the standout features of the 20th-century Church. He changed the image of the Vatican as well as that of Poland and Europe.”

Pope John Paul II is played in the musical by popular Polish actor Jacek Kawalec. Pop singers Anna Wyszkoni, Piotr Cugowski and Wojciech Cugowski appear as Wojtyła’s friends, and Agata Nizińska plays the mother of the future pope.

Tickets are available at www.musical-karol.pl and www.eventim.pl.
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