Friday, May 15, 2009

Culture Notes: "En Pecado Mortal"

A play about celibacy -- or lack thereof, “En Pecado Mortal” (“In Mortal Sin”) will debut this July at the Byron Carlyle theatre in Miami Beach. As we learn from our friends at El Diario de Hoy (5/10/2009), ironically, Fr. Alberto Cutié was one of the first to read and approve this production:

The drama that will shortly* be staged at the Byron Carlyle Theatre in Miami Beach could well have been a warning for what, until last week, few would have imagined -- the work that inspired Father Alberto Cutié to reveal his clandestine romance.

It is true that Cutié’s admission that he loved Ruhama Buni Canellis, a 35-year old divorcee and mother of a 14-year old adolescent boy, came only after the scandal provoked by the publication of a series of photographs of both on a sunny beach in Florida.

But Wilson Blass, the Puerto Rican playwright, who also directs the staging of “En Pecado Mortal”, which stars Paul Quevedo from Mexico and Colombian actress Alejandra Pinzón, has no doubt that his work weighed heavily in the mental process of the 40-year old priest.

“He (Cutié) was the first to read and approve it,” in spite of its controversial theme, said Blass in an interview with El Diario de Hoy, accompanied by Quevedo and Pinzón.

Blass reiterated in the conversation that he based his work on true facts and combined the cases of two Puerto Rican priests – one of whom left the priesthood to marry one of his parishioners and the other, a homosexual pedophile subsequently assassinated by a gang of teenagers.

The relationship between Juan de Dios (Quevedo, from the soap opera Doña Bárbara) and Milagros (Pinzón, from the soap opera Sin Senos No Hay Paraíso) is colored by the same dilemna that would torment any priest in a similar situation – love God or love the woman, says Blass.

According to the writer, there is no doubt that Cutié, "saw himself (as he reviewed the original play). It’s his life, without my knowing it". An additional parallel, says Blass: “The two priests (on which the theatrical work is based) are known to Father Cutié." In spite of the similarities, it is a stretch to say that there is an absolute parallel between “En Pecado Mortal” and the life of the famous priest, who millions know not for his pastoral work but for his presence in front of the TV cameras.

In contrast to the real case of Cutié, Juan de Dios’ love interest in the play is a 17-year old adolescent. And the homosexual priest also shows up, portrayed by Guatemalan actor Antonio Muñoz.

The scandal around the priest who the North American media calls “Father Oprah” could generate a greater incentive for Miamians to attend the Byron Carlyle when the two weeks of performances of this work begin.

Quevedo, who could well portray the telegenic Padre Alberto in front of the cameras if the story ever gets to the screen, says the work rests on its own merits.

“They are unique personae. It is an opportunity to show the public what one is made of as an actor, far beyond acting in front of cameras and an audience of millions,” the Mexican said.

Pinzón —who plays a prostitute in Sin Senos No Hay Paraíso, a radically distinct role from the virginal Milagros— says that she has a “sixth sense to appreciate the work” and the more lasting impact it could have on her career.

* It is interesting that all of the articles we found seemed to suggest that the play would come out shortly and yet, according to the theatre Web site, it is not scheduled until July...perhaps a strategic "delay"?

Photo: The lead actors in their regular soap opera roles.

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