Spotlight performance ‘It Takes a Village’ debuts at Sullivan Theatre

Suffolk’s Sullivan Studio Theater was filled with students, professors and families on Friday night for the Spotlight performance of “It Takes a Village,” a musical directed by senior theatre major Gracie Libby and stage managed by sophomore theatre major Ross Gray.

The show is a combination of “writing by Emerson, songs by Berklee and acting by Suffolk,” Libby stated before the show began. It premiered as part of Suffolk’s “Spotlight” series, a program that allows theatre students to individually showcase performances they run and direct themselves. The program gives students an opportunity to debut their work in a workshop format while promoting the theatre department.

“It Takes a Village” is a twist on the classic musical fairytale, popularized by the likes of Disney. Much of the show’s humor comes from breaking the fourth wall, given that all the residents of the ritual village are archetypal characters who are aware that they must sing for their princess, Celine.

The show opens when Meg, played by Adriana Alvarez, begins to sing about her life in the village, and how she and her fellow townspeople must serenade the princess whenever she appears. Meg is drawn to books and information rather than singing, and ends up skipping a chorus for the princess before the prince arrives for their wedding.

Princess Celine, played by Jamie Steinbach, is excited to meet her prince, played by Kane Harper. She is naive to the fact that the prince is evil and plans to steal her kingdom by marrying her and locking her away. This is known by the villagers, who despise singing for Celine and want her gone from their lives.

Meg realizes this and feels the need to help the young princess. She enlists the help of Baker, played by Peter Teutsch, who is in love with Celine. Together they warn the princess and formulate a plan to have Meg pretend to be a princess to fool the evil prince.

Their plan is ruined by Keith, played by Grayson Collins, who betrays the villagers after spending years being ridiculed by them.

The characters find their “happily ever after” in a final narrative by Stephanie Coyle as she details their defeat of the prince and individual endings for each character. The excitable mayor, played by Kaleigh Ryan, takes over as governor so Celine can better understand and connect with her townspeople.

The entire production used a simple set that helps the acting shine through, since the actors are required to improvise set pieces using the curtains and their hands. When not in a scene, characters return to seats lined at the back of the stage to view the action as if they are rehearsing for their own show.

The songs are reminiscent of iconic animated Disney films or Broadway musicals. The cast only used a piano to accompany them, which accentuated the actors’ voices and allowed their singing to become the highlight of the musical.

Each song has its own personality while still sticking to the formula most musicals about fairy tales use, which typically includes an opening number, a song sung by the villain, a romantic tune and the dramatic show stopping song that signals the show’s climax.

The show also featured the talent of Alice Byrne, Samantha Fagone and Amanda LoCoco as the ensemble cast. The next Spotlight performance will be held on March 22.