Thursday, October 18


Catherine - The Musical!

A recent post by Shrine friend Lucy reminds us that we here don't have the monopoly on Catholic wackiness, and indeed it is alive and well in Milwaukee. If you recall, my final year at Notre Dame, I played a bit part in a more-or-less amateur production of Frà Nagle's play Catherine the Valiant, a wonderfully extravagant little piece featuring St. Catherine of Siena, wronged young lovers, one scenery-chewing cardinal, several delightfully evil villains, and a walk-on role for a cranky, whiny, out-of-breath old man played by yours truly. (It was not much of a stretch.)

Lucy and the zuchetto-wearing Seminarian Pat were cast as the two delightfully evil villains in question, and to keep things interesting while during rehearsal (Cardinal Flandrin's Emperor Palpitane impressions didn't cut it) they cooked up a whole raft of parody songs for their own imaginary parallel production, the epic inside joke, Catherine: the Musical!, including "All I Want is a Pope in Rome," the "Zoot Suit Riot" hommage "Cardinal Flandrin," and the grand finale (complete with swing-dancing) entitled "Springtime for Catherine and Avignon," which would have made Mel Brooks proud. Or something. Go over to her place and read the lyrics yourself! (I can't afford the Guinness royalties to reprint them).

Lucy, like The Shrine's Emily and the Sober Sophomore, is, incidentally, a member of the venerable guild of Churchladies--though I will caution you to remember that today's churchlady is far younger, far better-dressed and even more dangerous than the scary old women with painted-on eyebrows of 1950. In a just world, they would probably helm a Catholic version of What Not To Wear (desperately needed at present), though it would also probably include sections on altar linens, beer appreciation, and unarmed self-defense.

How my life at Notre Dame with these folks and Dan and Drew didn't degenerate into a sitcom, I don't know. I can't make this stuff up, guys.

Postscript. Lucy mentions having watched Becket, a fine movie with my favorite (well, only) Excommunication Scene in it (and a few historical liberties about Anglo-Saxons and Normans). She does call them on the outrageous Italian accents the Pope sports in one scene, which reminds me that Dan, Drew and I used to refer to that character as "The Pontiff from the Pizza Parlor." "Hey, I'm-a talkin' to you-a!"

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