Sunday, May 20, 2012

Emotions shared with musical for honored heroes



     A masterly composed musical entitled “Requiem For A Young Man” officially premiered at Valencia’s Performing Arts Center on May 10, after eight years of preparations by visionary creator and composer Ronald Owen. This touching tribute to the emotions of war was presented in a classic operatic style. 

     The relatable archetypal characters and exceptional music compositions gives this concept all the foundations of the next great American musical.

     “This is for all of the service men and women who have ever served our country,” said Ronald Owen, writer and producer of the show. 

     Originally this concept was meant to honor Vietnam veterans, but after more than eight years of development, it has grown to represent all members of the military and their families throughout modern history.

     The story follows the universal topics faced by a small family as their young son goes off to fight for his country. By not centering on a specific conflict or era, the story is left open to focus on what it means for soldiers and their loved ones, who are also facing the trials of war as they hope for peace in the future.

     Accompanying the musical performance of the lead actors was a 20 piece orchestra of strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion and a large choir. The music written by Owen is brilliantly refined and focused on moving this story in a clear direction. 

     The songs have the technical arrangement quality of any professionally written movie soundtrack, and the feel of watching the live performance of a major motion picture, testified to this exceptional composition.

     The young man falls in love with his hometown sweetheart, but feels the drums of war calling him into service for his country. Tunes with an upbeat marching tempo positively introduce this character and his intentions to honorably serve his nation. Addressing this topic with his parents in operatic style, the young man pleads his case as his parents share their concerns, in hopes he will reconsider. This is a natural reaction that conjures sincere emotions and further validates the authenticity of the story.

     Several key segments of the production integrated elements of interpretive ballet dancing choreographed by Cuic Suarez. There was also strongly written war poetry read by a poet dressed in a full Marine uniform. The unique dancing and poetic elements worked to strengthen the overall artistic value of this production.

     The young man goes to fight, and in a moment of confusion after assisting a fallen ally, he is mortally wounded in battle. His loved ones then have to come to grips with the cruel reality of this honorable sacrifice. 

     Rather than becoming a tragic end, this outcome is turned into a representation of all the brave soldiers throughout history, and what it means to support them and their families after the fight.

     “It’s very powerful, I was almost brought to tears when the young man was shot,” said audience member Ariel Thomas. She also feels that the quality of this story and its music is at the high standards of any Broadway musical.

     The future of this production is now the big question to be answered. Organizers want to continue to perform the show in cities around the country to keep spreading the word, but its full potential could be much higher than that.

     The recent rise in popularity for musical themed entertainment can help to realistically lay the foundations for any studio to transform “Requiem For A Young Man” into a major motion picture. Any trained screenwriter could tie this brilliant musical score into a great film with a wide range of appeal. Though the future is currently unclear, the sky's the limit for this universally marketable concept.

By James Tutten
info@jamestutten.com

(Published: May 16, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 2.)

(All photos by James Tutten)



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