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Once upon a time, Stephen Sondhiem and James Lapine's Brothers Grimm story "Into the Woods" inspired a musical to be performed at Rutgers this weekend. The Livingston Student Center's multipurpose room will be transformed for the Livingston Theatre Company's (LTC) first main stage production of the year, directed by David Dizdari, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, and many other executive board members, from Nov. 9 to 12.
The cautionary warning, “be careful what you wish for,” is woven throughout "Into the Woods" as the ongoing theme in the musical. The play follows a pantheon of fairytale characters: a Baker and his wife who wish to have a child, Cinderella who wishes to go to the King’s Festival and Jack who wishes his cow would give him some milk. Storybook characters from the films “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Rapunzel,” also make appearances. Together, they must rely on each other in order to save the kingdom but not without making sacrifices.
“The show is about the stories we grew up listening to and how they come together to teach lessons. In this particular vision, we are looking at the lessons we learn and at family ties," said Joana Marmelo, a Rutgers Business School senior, who expanded on the idea of the fairy tale plot line. "As a managing director, I make sure everything is safe and running smoothly. I also make sure the executive board’s vision is coming true.”
The fairy tale stage is composed of many hand-painted images and drawings with a large backdrop resembling a storybook hanging center, which set an adventurous mood for the production.
A bed set up beside the backdrop gives viewers a sense of comfort and innocence and serves as a reminder as characters travel through a child’s imagination. Along the sides of the stage are painted tree branches to illustrate the setting of the woods.
One of the main characters is Little Red, played by Christina Ferucci, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. Ferucci described her role as a “young and adventurous little girl.”
She said, “Little Red is always looking for snacks, and finds herself in this dark story, but she is a light in it as well. It is almost her 'fall from innocence,' as she sees there is not always good in the world, there is some bad as well.”
The costumes and lighting that the crew managed to put together are key elements in putting on a major production. Although the costumes are not complicated, they have their own unique touch that makes them stand out.
The Witch, played by Rebecca Madeira, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, had an original costume with pieces that can be easily thrifted. During shows, darker lighting helps create a dark reflection of the character’s personality. With detailed mouth jewelry, as well as long, crafted nails, her costume can almost be a child’s worst nightmare, or in the story’s case, Rapunzel’s mother.
The most common theme throughout is the journey, which is echoed by the journey members like Sabrina Dunn, a Mason Gross School of the Arts first-year, and Randy Campo, a Rutgers Business School first-year.
Dunn said, “The club is a great way to meet new people and to explore other music types other than classical at Mason Gross. The LTC provides me with a lot of variety, and my favorite part is the prologue because all the characters come together.”
Campo said he liked the professional atmosphere of the club and working with other students who share his passion for musical theater.
"My favorite part of the show is called 'No One is Alone,' because it is an emotional scene and it shows that even in your darkest times, people can still come together," Campo said.
Each actor in the play contributes something unique, making for a well-rounded and dynamic performance.
The musical pit also contributes great musical pieces to accompany each scene and its emotional qualities. The pit is an essential part of every LTC production.
Director Dizdari said that he could not be prouder of the members in this production and that seeing it come to life is magical.
"This club is so inclusive and welcoming," he said. "We hope you come join us into the woods.”