There’s a generational span between the two characters Torian Brackett plays in the Oct. 22 production of “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou.” He’s featured in the role of the teenaged Junior and also in the role of Mr. Thompson, a voting rights advocate decades older than the teen.
So, how will Torian manage to portray both parts convincingly?
“I definitely want to keep the youthfulness [of Junior], I want to get the slangy feel of a very young person, a kid. [His speech pattern] is not going to be very proper. With Mr. Thompson, I’ll bass up my voice,” among other adjustments, Torian noted.
For the role of Mr. Thompson, Torian’s singing voice will be showcased as well.
“We had to make a few casting adjustments after the initial auditions, and part of that process included adding a song originally not in this particular production, to take advantage of Torian’s strong singing voice,” said composer-lyricist-book writer Felicia Hunter. “The song Torian sings in the Oct. 22 production is actually meant for another character. But for this production, Mr. Thompson will sing it. It’s a great opportunity to feature Torian’s talent.”
As fate would have it, Torian has been inadvertently preparing for such dual roles as Mr. Thompson and Junior for some time. Although he carries a minor in theater at SUNY New Paltz, his major is linguistics.
“I took an introductory course [in linguistics] my freshman year and was completely hooked,” said Torian. Intrigued by anime and Asian culture, he originally considered a major in Asian studies.
But a little dabbling in college musical theater projects reawakened an early interest in the stage and changed his path.
“I really do think my heart is in musical theater. I enjoy it,” said Torian, who grew up in Mount Vernon.
“A long time ago I went to a performing arts magnet school, and I played violin a few years,” he recalled. Hearing Idina Menzel belt out Wicked’s “Defying Gravity” for the first time planted the musical theater seed in him.
“I said, ‘What is that?’” Torian recalled. “It was big and bold and fun.”
He’s attracted to song lyrics that are witty and insightful. Composers whose works he admires include Jason Robert Brown, Ryan Scott Oliver and William Finn. Among favorite roles he’s performed is Hot Blades Harry in Urinetown. The part helped him expand as an actor, “getting detail and depth I hadn’t done before,” he notes.
The role of Junior in “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou” offers similar professional growth, said Torian.
“It’s the first show I’ve done that asks for the kind of emotion” required for the part of Junior, a troubled young man impacted by a tragic past, said Torian. Other aspects of “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou” also evoke a visceral response, he said.
“I really like the song ‘Make It Like It Was Before.’ It’s smart and it’s clever,” said Torian, referring to a song in the show performed by a group of voting rights resisters. “It had me squirming in my chair, so it did its job.”
Torian added that the subject of voting rights is particularly significant, especially now.
“I’m very excited to be a part of the production,” he said. “It’s a very important show.”