UNION, NJ – A Union woman is living her lifelong dream as she builds her career as a singer and songwriter.

Marissa Rago, 31, is working hard on her career and getting noticed.  Rago attended Livingston Elementary, Jefferson, Kawameeh Middle School and Union High School, where she performed in every fall and spring production that the Union High School Performing Arts Company (UHSPAC) put on.

But, she began her UHSPAC career much earlier.  “My mother was the UHSPAC director, so I actually had the opportunity to be in several productions even before I got to high school,” she said.  Her first role with UHSPAC was at the age of five.  Rago received a full scholarship from the Paper Mill Playhouse to attend Westminster Choir College, majoring in vocal music, before transferring to Wagner College, where she majored in musical theatre.

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Rago played Annie in UHSPAC’s “Annie”.  “That was right before I auditioned and landed the role of Pepper in the Disney remake of the musical, so it was a year of “Annie” for me,” she said. 

While at Union High School, Rago said all UHSPAC fall productions were comedies or dramas and all spring productions were musicals.  One of her  favorite comedies was Neil Simon's, “Rumors, when she played the role of Claire Ganz. Musicals during her tenure with the PAC included “Leader of the Pack-The Ellie Greenwich story” (Ellie Greenwich), “Into The Woods” (The Witch), “Aida” (Amneris), and “Les Miserables” (Eponine).

Rago said she has been singing and acting her entire life.  “I’ve always loved it,” she said.  “I can't even imagine doing anything else.”  She said she developed a passion for writing music five years ago when she began working in the studio with her manager/producer, John Cinquino. “He helped me to develop my skills for writing melody and lyrics, and I have grown to be equally passionate for songwriting.”

Rago teaches voice, songwriting, and beginner piano at Music & Arts in Livingston. She also has a job in a doctor’s office in the mornings.  “My days begin at 7:00 a.m. in the doctor's office, then I spend afternoons, evenings, and weekends in the studio working on my music and teaching my students.”

Her website can be viewed by clicking here.