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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Fans flock to Mother Teresa musical
Mother Teresa - the musical
The musical tells the story of Mother Teresa's struggles
A musical about the life of Mother Teresa has had audiences flocking to a Rome theatre ahead of the late nun's beatification by the Pope.

The show looks back at her five decades of helping the poor in Calcutta, set to reggae, funk and pop songs.

About 1,300 people packed the Brancaccio theatre for its first night.

"The aim is not to tackle political problems but to portray her most ephemeral aspects," said the show's creator Michele Paulicelli.

Some 250,000 pilgrims are expected to journey to Italy for the beatification ceremony, the final formal stage before sainthood.

The musical, which has already played to 70,000 during a tour of Italy, is one of a number of events being held ahead of the ceremony on Sunday.

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa is being fast-tracked to sainthood

The part of Mother Teresa is played by 22-year-old actress Giada Nobile, showing the nun battling red tape to ensure food reached the needy.

Uncritical

Mother Teresa, who died in 1997, was treated as a living saint during her lifetime for her work taking care of the poor through her Missionaries of Charity organisation.

The musical's author offers an uncritical assessment of the religious figure, leaving out political controversy such as Mother Teresa accepting donations from the likes of the late media tycoon Robert Maxwell and former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier.

"A musical needs fiction to make the message more true. It's a photograph of Mother Teresa," Mr Paulicelli said.

The opening night in Italy was greeted with rapturous applause throughout from the audience, mainly made up of nuns, teachers and pupils.

Mother Teresa - the musical
The musical uses many musical genres

'Never give up'

Sister Maria Luisa, an Italian and Latin teacher who accompanied her school class to see the musical, said it was a little over the top for her taste.

"But I suppose that's due to the demands of a musical. If it can help people to get an idea of what kind of person Mother Teresa was, then it's already something," she said.

"It's a way of showing that even in suffering, you must never give up," said another nun.

Mr Paulicelli has previously written a musical on the life of St Francis of Assisi which ran for 20 years in Italy.




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