~ by Paula Katinas, The Tablet
FOREST HILLS, NY – Of the numerous stage productions being performed across New York city as the pandemic eases, perhaps only one will star…a saint
“Happening Woman,” a musical based on the life and times of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, better known as Mother Cabrini, the beloved Patron Saint of Immigrants, [was staged] on November 13 and 14 in the auditorium of Our Lady of Mercy Church in Forest Hills.
Featuring 15 songs and a cast of 24, the play spotlights the founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who spent much of her life tending to immigrants and the poor.
It’s the brainchild of AnnaMarie Prono, a parishioner at Our Lady of Mercy, who recalls the point in time when she developed an interest in the Italian-born luminary. During a chat, she asked a friend, “What do you know about Mother Cabrini?”
Her friend answered, “She was a happening woman when women weren’t happening.”
That comment became the inspiration for “Happening Woman,” which Prono has co-written with composer Bob Kaufmann. The show is co-produced with Milini Singh McDonald.
The play features a variety of musical genres – including a traditional Italian tarantella, marching band music inspired by John Philip Sousa, rock and roll numbers and music with a Mexican flavor.
Kaufmann, who said the score is “unapologetically spiritual,” added that his goal was to make the songs “as upbeat and catchy as possible.”
The plot of “Happening Woman” jumps back and forth in time between the past and the present. It depicts Mother Cabrini’s life but also tells the parallel present day story of a 13 year old girl struggling with multiple sclerosis (MS). Prono has MS as does McDonald. They’re both inspired by the legacy of Mother Cabrini who was “sickly her entire life,” Prono said. “And yet she just did so much. She never stopped. People told her no. She didn’t care. She just kept going.”
Prono is hoping “Happening Woman” inspires people, just as she was by St. Cabrini.
The creators wanted the show to bring Catholics closer to their faith.
~ submitted by Sr. Christine Marie Baltas, MSC
Sr. Christine Marie Baltas, MSC and Cabrini University Library Director Anne Schwelm recently traveled to Forest Hills, NY to enjoy this play for which they served as resource persons.