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Emerson Teen Actors Push Themselves ‘Into The Woods’

Sela Ghougasian, left, plays the Baker's Wife and Jenn Bueti, the Witch, in the Emerson Junior-Senior High School production of "Into the Woods."
Sela Ghougasian, left, plays the Baker's Wife and Jenn Bueti, the Witch, in the Emerson Junior-Senior High School production of "Into the Woods." Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Elizabeth Zielinski as Little Red Riding Hood.
Elizabeth Zielinski as Little Red Riding Hood. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Director Bill Ullman, longtime music and drama teacher at Emerson Juniors-Senior High School, plays piano during a brush-up rehearsal for "Into the Woods" Wednesday.
Director Bill Ullman, longtime music and drama teacher at Emerson Juniors-Senior High School, plays piano during a brush-up rehearsal for "Into the Woods" Wednesday. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Rehearsing a scene are Sela Ghougasian and Michael Ferrante, who play the Baker's Wife and the Baker in "Into the Woods."
Rehearsing a scene are Sela Ghougasian and Michael Ferrante, who play the Baker's Wife and the Baker in "Into the Woods." Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
In a scene from "Into the Woods" are, from the left, Sela Ghougasian, Jenn Bueti and Michael Ferrante.
In a scene from "Into the Woods" are, from the left, Sela Ghougasian, Jenn Bueti and Michael Ferrante. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash

EMERSON, N.J. — Sela Ghougasian plays the baker’s wife in “Into the Woods,” this year’s production at Emerson Junior-Senior High School .

Getting one of the lead roles in the Stephen Sondheim musical was great.

Still, the senior was tentative at first.

The story, which draws from multiple fairy tales, centers around a childless baker, his wife and their quest to start a family.

Not the easiest plot line in the world.

“When we all got our roles, we were very scared,” Ghougasian said of the play, co-directed by drama/music teacher Bill Ullman and his wife, Lisa, of Cresskill.

“One morning I went to Mr. Ullman, planning on quitting. He told me I was going to be fine.”

She and her classmates say they don’t get constant nurturing from the dynamic husband/wife team.

Instead, they also get what they need: a push to go beyond where they think they can go.

“They will make sure you get it on your own, which I appreciate a lot,” Ghougasian said.

Other senior cast members include the Baker (played by Louis Currier and Michael Ferrante), the Witch (Jenn Bueti), and Rapunzel’s Prince (Rajeev Sinha).

Aleks Dinic, who plays Milky-White, the cow, summed up the feelings of many of his peers: “We left our comfort zone in going ‘Into the Woods.’”

But that was precisely Ullman’s point in choosing the play.

Yes, he wanted a production with a lot of roles and he wanted something different than a Golden Age musical.

He also thought the 2014 movie, “Into the Woods,” would inspire interest.

But Ullman also knew the play had special significance for students about to embark on the next phase of their lives.

“As a director, you have to pick a theme,” he told Daily Voice.

“I told them at the beginning that to live your life, you have to step out into a risk. That’s what the show is about. The woods represent the world and you’ve got to go out into the world.”

The final performances of “Into the Woods” will take place 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Emerson Junior-Senior High School .

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