By Rica Arevalo
Tomorrow, Dec. 4, musical theater artists come together at the Cultural Center of the Philippines to honor theater director and film critic Nestor U. Torre in a benefit show, Loving the N.U.T.: A benefit concert for Nestor U. Torre.
NUT suffered from a stroke last February and his artists friends wanted to see him recover fully. Among the performers are his favorite actors and dearest friends in the industry, likeCeleste Legaspi, Mitch Valdes, Dulce, Isay Alvarez, Robert Seña, Ricky Davao, Pinky Marquez, Bo Cerrudo, Gian Magdangal, Bobby Martino, and Beverly Salviejo.
Isay, who is spearheading the event, shares in an interview, “My love and passion in performing arts were passed in to me by NUT. He was the one who brought me to music lounges to audition.”
Isay Alvarez played the original Vietnamese bar girl Gigi in West End’s Miss Saigon. “He coached me from diction to choosing the songs to learn, to spiels and how to connect to the audience,” she says. “He is a mentor and encourager. He was instrumental to our decision to come home and stay and play an active part in promoting original Filipino musicals.”
Actor Ricky Davao developed his singing talent in hotel lounges. “He was the first one who introduced me to sing live in a hotel show with Lirio Vital,” he reminisces. “I’ve worked with him in a play of Padre Pio. He’s very strict and precise, at the same time soft-hearted. One time during our rehearsal, I received a call about a dying relative. Quietly he talked to me and said, you better rest and go.”
As a film critic, NUT was objective with his friends. “If I don’t see him, he writes about me in his famous column. Sometime he praises me, sometimes he talks about my weight and thinks I can be a leading man minus 20 pounds!,” laughs Ricky.
He is a mentor and ‘encourager.’ He was instrumental to our decision to come home and stay and play an active part in promoting original Filipino musicals.
Pinky Marquez, who recently played Empress Wu in the European tour of Marco Polo: When You Find Your True Love, have good words for her beloved mentor. “I really started in television and in a live show band. There was an ad auditioning for Katy!, it was the first time I saw Nestor,” recalls Pinky. “I auditioned—singing and dancing. That was my first adventure ride with NUT. Since then, he kept getting me for shows.”
Pinky has played Mother Mary in almost 200 shows of Magnificat. “I will never forget that through the journey, he asked me to do the role of Mother Mary in Magnificat. I said, ‘What a full Tagalog musical? No way.’ He said, ‘I will help you,’” she muses.
“I learned professionalism from him. And it pays off. Now when I am abroad and they see how I conduct myself in musicals, they see how professional we are,” she adds. “We are early, no excuses, we memorize our scripts. I learn all this from NUT.”
A former student of NUT in Ateneo is Jose Mari Chan. “Nestor was an English professor at the Ateneo during my college years there,” he notes. “Also, when he directed his films for Lea Productions in the early ‘70s, I had the pleasure of writing the music score and theme song of one of his films.”
He informed Boots Anson Roa Rodrigo (former student of NUT) that he will sponsor the show. “Please assure all the performers that night that I will be one with them in spirit. I will be in and out of the country, so I won’t be able to perform in that concert with them as much as I want to.”
Artist Araceli Dans, who NUT directed in an educational TV program, is donating Mother’s Gift II. The medium is watercolor on paper, and she made it in 2015. There is a silent bidding so all are invited to get in touch with Isay Alvarez.
Be assured that a show full of love from all the performers will be ignited that night for NUT.
Loving the N.U.T.: A benefit concert for Nestor U. Torre is directed by Rito Asilo. For ticket details, e-mail email@example.com or call (+639) 19 911 4444 or (02) 355 0195.