ESPIRITU comes alive in Chile
Salvationists from Western Territory help bring ESPIRITU to life.
Salvationists from the US Western Territory participated in Chile’s congress with a production of the new version of the musical ESPIRITU. The congress—which kicked off with ESPIRITU—culminated a yearlong celebration of The Salvation Army’s 100 years in Chile, and included participation from General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton. (See related story on p. .)
This version of ESPIRITU, originally created (as Spirit) by General John Larsson (Ret.) and General John Gowans (Ret.), features an updated story line set in the heart of a modern city, and new musical arrangements by Karl and Kevin Larsson.
The team from the West included Kevin and Jacqui Larsson (Southern California divisional headquarters), along with Karl Larsson and Pili Martinez-Moore (territorial headquarters). They put together the musical over two weekend practices—one in September and one the week before the presentation.
“I had my doubts when Kevin suggested putting the musical on over two weekends,” stated Karl Larsson. “But we could have rehearsed for months and couldn’t have bettered the performances the cast gave. They were superb and did everything we asked of them.”
Although ESPIRITU wasn’t new to the Chilean Salvationists—it had been presented in the 80s under the leadership of (then Commissioner) General Larsson (Ret.)—this version included the participation of many second and third generation Salvationists. Complete families took part, and ages ranged from 12 years to over 60.
On day of the presentation, a Christian radio station broadcast a live feed of the practice and interviewed the Larssons. Over 2,000 people packed the Tiempo de Dios Church.
“This production was different in places to the one we staged in Los Angeles,” commented Karl Larsson. “Some changes were required because of the tight budget, others for cultural reasons. For example, we changed Stephen’s death to a firing squad, which certainly resonated with the audience. The atmosphere throughout that whole scene was electric.”
ESPIRITU’s impact affected cast members—who vowed to do what the Spirit asks—and the audience, many of whom made decisions to come back to The Salvation Army, to come back to Christianity, and to get more involved in the local church.
Producing the musical in Chile was meaningful to Kevin and Karl Larsson as they lived in Chile during their parents’ service there and feel that they “carry a little bit of Chile” in them. The team is grateful to the Western Territory multimedia team (Josh Cowing, Jason Leighton and Fulton Hawk) for providing animated backdrops that were projected on three big screens spread across the stage, and to the USA Western Territory for providing the funds to put together this musical for the centennial celebration of the Army in Chile.
The world premiere of the new version of ESPIRITU took place in May 2008 in Los Angeles, Calif. The South America West Territory hopes that the musical will travel throughout the territory in the following years, taking the Spirit with them.