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Hillsborough Native Brings Theater Talents Home

Nicky Singer and her cast is presenting 'Little Women' at the Somerset Valley Playhouse.

Phil Barrood, a 17-year-old resident of Hillsborough, will be doing something that Nicky Singer, another Hillsborough native, has never seen: playing two leading roles in the same play.

Singer, a playwright and Rider University student, teaches Barrood and other local actors and actresses at the Allegra School of Performing Arts.

She is also directing the musical in which Barrood will perform, "Little Women: The Broadway Musical," which is scheduled to appear at the on Friday, Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday Aug. 18 at 1 p.m. (understudy performance) and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 19 at 2 p.m.

"It's been a challenge," said Barrood, discussing his playing of two roles in the musical. "They're such different roles. One is very outspoken and wants all the attention. The other is a very caring person ... vocally, it's demanding. One sings lower, one sings higher. It's kind of vocally exhausting. And emotionally exhausting too."

Singer said that the level of dedication that her students like Barrood bring to their art is impressive.

"It's an emotional roller coaster, this play," she said. "And performing this play ... they come home exhausted and that is the level of professionalism they bring."

Laura Couch, a Montgomery High School student who will also perform in "Little Women," says that she feels comfortable at Allegra.

"It really feels like a family here," she said. "It's a really great environment to be yourself and try your best."

This will be the first time she plays a leading role in a play.

"I definitely think I've really improved my acting a lot," she said. "I'm a rather shy person, and I feel like I've gotten out of my shell ... really try to bring authenticity to my character and to the situations."

The performances will include a live pit orchestra, which includes 17-year-old student Dustin Ciano on trumpet.

Ciano said that everyone he has worked with for the musical has been talented and confident, and that it has helped him with his playing style.

"The music is phenomenal," said Singer, who added that one song specifically, "Some Things Are Meant to Be," often brings spectators to tears when performed by her students.

"It is a moving moment, and it is happening with 15 and 16-year-olds," she said.

Tickets to the production are $10 and are available on the Somerset Valley Playhouse website.

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