Lots To Love About Little Women

Nora Shychuk

Photo courtesy of Jacksonville University

Louisa May Alcott would be proud.

On Thursday, Sept. 29, Jacksonville University’s fine arts department hosted an advanced review production of Little Women. It began promptly at 7 p.m., and senior Anesha Hines, the stage manager, warmly greeted the small audience. The actors performed their warm-ups and voice exercises, and then the show began.

Some of the costumes and set pieces were understandably unfinished because the actual play does not begin until Oct.13, but that was not distracting in the least. From the first piano chord and the first character coming on the stage, the show came alive.

Little Women tells the story of the four March sisters, Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy. Their father is away at war, and their mother, who they affectionately refer to as “Marmee,” raises them singlehandedly. The sisters grow, learn, and experience many exciting ups and devastating lows together.

So, where to begin? This production was, in one word, fantastic. The costumes were beautiful and the acting was believable and completely professional, especially for a dress rehearsal. Each actor was extremely impressive and brought a unique flavor to the show.

The show was converted into the musical version, which was surprising and refreshing. It definitely kept the production more exciting and engaging.

“I thought that the music made it different and interesting,” said junior Ann-Marie Connelly. “It was good to see the characters stay true to the book and film, but to also break out and sing. It added more surprise and I looked forward to the songs. Each one carried the story and furthered the plot, which I really liked. I didn’t even know there was a musical for Little Women until tonight.”

Jo, played wonderfully by senior Nikki Spies, is the star of Little Women. From the beginning, Jo has the dream of becoming a famous writer. However, this character’s real draw is how loyal and loving she is to her family. Anyone who has read or seen the film version of Little Women knows the extent she is willing to go to earn a few dollars for her struggling family.

Senior Maggie Moore (Meg), junior Elyn Wolfe (Beth), and junior Jessica “Jet” Thomas (Amy) play the other sisters of Little Women.

Moore played Meg, the quiet romantic, to the tee. Not only was she mature and kind like an older sister should be, but she also had several silly parts that were played exquisitely.

Wolfe played Beth impeccably. She was the soft-spoken sweetheart, as she is meant to be. Beth has one of the more interesting stories in the play, and the audience was greatly affected by it.

Lastly, Thomas played the role of Amy with a lot of silliness and immaturity, which was of course intentional. Amy added a lot of excitement and laughs to the show, hugely because of Thomas’s skills.

Lawrie, the young, unconventional next door neighbor was played by senior Ross Frontz. Lawrie was, arguably, the funniest character of the night, with many great one-liners and exceptional delivery by Frontz.

Mr. Brook, Lawrie’s tutor, was played by senior Erick Crow. This character was kind, quiet and sensitive much like in the movie, and Crow truly captured the essence of Mr. Brook greatly.

Sophomore Alec Hadden had the part of Mr. Lawrence, a.k.a. the “crazy, mean old man across the street.” Hadden was loud, boisterous and completely hilarious.

Junior Keisha Marie Gill (“Marmee”), senior Stephen Michael Johns (Professor Bhaer), and senior Claire Futo (Aunt March) rounded out the principle cast.

Gill was comforting and maternal and truly hit the nail on the head with her part. Bhaer, Jo’s professor and love interest, was played with delightful vulnerability, stubbornness and sweetness. Last, but certainly not least, Futo played Aunt March in a way that was so perfect it was almost unreal. She was easily one of the more memorable characters – being mean, hilarious, snooty and lovable all at once.

There is no question that Little Women was a success. The small crowd that was there loved it, and it was clear how much all of the actors enjoyed putting on the show.

“I liked it a lot,” said junior Jacob Campbell. “It was a good story and the acting was great. From what I have seen, it is going to be a really awesome show.”

I cannot recommend this show enough. If you are a fan of the book, the film or even if you have no idea what it is about, it is definitely worth checking out. It is a small story with huge heart that will surely appeal to just about anyone. These “Little Women” are special, and so is the show.