By: Shantaya Brinson
While most students are still enjoying their winter break, Robbie Torres has already started planning for the upcoming semester. Torres is a currently busy with plans to showcase his latest musical, Requiem for my Father.
The third-year Theatre Arts major from Long Island, New York spent his childhood writing and began performing in community theatre as early as age eight. There he was exposed to, and inspired by artist ssuch as Leonard Bernstein, Rogers and Hammerstein, and Steven Schwartz.
However, it was not until he discovered the music of Regina Spektor that he was inspired to start writing musicals akin to those he admired. With the plays like those of Rogers and Hammerstein in mind and the unique and clever arrangements of Spektor, he started to write.
While Torres enjoys writing in all forms, he is most comfortable setting his words to music. He plays both the violin and piano. Although he admits creating new material can be difficult, he credits discipline and patience with aiding the process.
“There is nothing more powerful than the perfect marriage of music and lyrics,” said Torres. He further clarifies his writing style by explaining,“I love using metaphors because they are so universal. Any person who listens to the metaphor understands it in a way completely unique to their personal circumstances. They are taken out of the circumstances of the character and forced to grapple with their own circumstances.”
Some of the circumstances that make up Torres’s plots seem to be based on common themes like rejection and acceptance, unconditional love, and family ties. His latest, somewhat autobiographical musical Requiem for my Father is driven by theme.
It there such follows a family shaken and angered by the death of a father who was never able to love his brood unconditionally in life. By the end of the play, a series of flashbacks and well-written songs divulge more insight on the family and their individual demons.
Torres believes his musical proves appealing to any type of audience and is capable of speaking to the human spirit. Requiem for my Father has already proved moving to some.
He admits, “I came out when I was 14, much to my parents’ dismay. My father would say horrible things to me, but when I did a reading of the musical in the summer of 2009, my father came to see it. The reading left my already rocky relationship with my father at a great precipice; he sat there, watched, and listened to the words and emotions and ideas that I had been writing about for months.
“After the reading, my relationship with my father slowly strengthened, and, through the music, he learned to accept my ‘faults’. However, he also realized his own faults and ultimately saw that unconditional love is the best love a parent can give their child.”
Thanks to the newly formed Club FIERCE, an MMC organization that aims to bring together various forms of art by way of an open mike series, Torres’s students, teachers, and friends will get a chance to see “Requiem for my Father.”
The musical will also be included in the Theatre Department’s Wall-to-Wall musical showcase later on this semester. Exact dates and locations are still pending but will be announced soon.
In the near future, he hopes to start working on a new piece exposing the horrors of drug and sex addiction, while focusing on gay men in New York City.
“Someone needs to write about these taboo things,” said Torres. Judging from his dedication to his craft, and the response to Requiem for my Father, he will have no problem crafting this difficult material into an entertaining and moving musical.