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Friends of the Arts presents ‘Into the Woods’

A BAKER’S search for special ingredients — a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn,  slippers as pure as gold —  brought together popular fairy tale characters and created a magical musical night.

The Friends of the Arts staged “Into the Woods” on Wednesday at the multi-purpose center in Susupe and it will run until Friday night starting at 7 p.m.

The two-act play is based on the book by James Lapine with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

FOA president Susan Fishman-Tudor said their version may not be a la Broadway, but they have local talents whose singing does justice to Sondheim’s almost-operatic style, she added. “There is very little dialogue, everything is in song. Everybody has to work very hard to learn the music.”

She added, “This is the first time that I’ve been involved in Sondheim’s music. The written music is difficult to learn. When you are reading a script or acting it out, you can add a line and fill in, but when you are singing a song, you can’t miss a note.”

She said the FOA recruited young local talents, most of them students who have performed in local and national competitions.

The cast members included Dave Bucher, Macy Manzanares, Bonnie Gio Sagana, Rinisa Torres, Neil Fama, Joan Liwanag, Helen Ann Bucher, Clarisse Torio, Aira Joy Velasco, Amber Liwag, Marilou  Conner, Nicoleanne Bird, Chuck Sayon, Miguel Aninon, Kelvin Wolf, Maria Metta, Eden Conner, James Reyes, Lauren Celis, Juliet Inocencio, Jefferson Cunanan, Khristian Itaas, Francis Pliscou and Jenine Perena.

“We have a cast of almost 40 people, just enough to fill the parts. A lot of people were cast for their vocal range,” Susan Fishman-Tudor said, adding they also cast some of the FOA actors.

The cast went through up to eight weeks of rehearsals after their auditions, she said. “Everybody learned the music first and then we coordinated with the orchestra which helped a lot.”

The two-hour play features 72 songs and is accompanied by a live orchestra under the direction of Katie Hoyt.

In 2009, the FOA staged “My Fair Lady” with a live orchestra at the same venue.

The band members for “Into the Woods,” are Adrian David, percussion; Atsuko Eck, clarinet; David Frahm, piano; Davean Gonzales, percussion; Julian Greening, euphonium; Kate Ishida, piano; and Esther Park, flute.

Fishman-Tudor said one of the major difficulties they faced was putting music and script together.

She said the play had to be postponed because of many other hurdles.  “We had planned this production for April, but we had to postpone it,” she said.

“This month, we scheduled the showing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. But then  there’s the Taste of the Marianas and the Marianas March Against Cancer.”

She said they were also affected by the judicial building’s shutdown. Some court hearings are now being held at the multi-purpose center.

“There’s a lot going on here,” Fishman-Tudor said, referring to the multi-purpose center.

“One of our major difficulties is doing all the rehearsals on a stage that is not the same stage where we’ll perform,” she said.

But they were able to rehearse at the venue two days before opening night.

One of the new things that FOA did for this production was to upgrade its audio technology.

Fishman-Tudor said one of the major complaints in the past was that the audience was not able to hear the actors clearly.

For “Into the Woods,” the technical staff includes Chenoa Bunts-Anderson, Ellen Cotter, Tucker Baldwin, Nicoleanne Bird, Wesley Forster and Ruoxiang John Lu.

The scenic artists are Wesley Forster, Greg Elliot, and the Marianas High Art Club: Meillene Ferrer, Cherlene Detera, Mary Jane Domingo, Karen Irinaka, John Lum Cerijean Mangubat and Jed Pagcaliwanagan.

“It is really an intricate and complicated show,” Fishman-Tudor said. “The score is difficult. But we have a great production crew. We have stage managers, students and adults, who helped in the production enormously. That is a real bonus when you’re producing a show as complicated and as intricate as this,” Fishman-Tudor said.

According to director Harold Easton, the first act of “Into the Woods” is about wanting, while the second act is about the consequences and the unexpected results of that wanting.

“The consequences and unexpected results are equally part of that experience, sometimes for the good, sometimes not. See if you can recognize things you have seen during your lifetime that are reflected in our fairy tale characters,” he said.

“I think the message there is ‘Be careful what you wish for,’ ” Fishman-Tudor added.

She is hoping that members of the community will come out to watch the show. “This will not happen again. Your community has come together to present a program for your entertainment that someplace else people would flock to go to,” she said.

Tickets prices are $4 for students, $6 for FOA members,  $8 for adults and 1/2 price for all moms. Tickets are available at the Bridge Capital front desk, from cast members and at the venue.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/104353-friends-of-the-arts-presents-into-the-woods

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