Astonishing, is the best way to describe Saint Mary's Visual and Performing Arts Department 2019 musical Little Women the Broadway Musical, with shows Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15-16, 2019, at 7 p.m., in historic Eliza Battle Pittman Auditorium. The show previewed to rave reviews Thursday, Feb. 14.
Little Women is a musical with book by Allan Knee, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, and music by Jason Howland.
Based on Louisa May Alcott's classic 1869 semi-autobiographical novel, the story focuses on the four March sisters— traditional Meg; spirited, aspiring writer Jo; timid Beth, and romantic Amy— and their beloved Marmee, at home in Concord, Mass., while their father is away serving as a Union Army chaplain during the Civil War. Intercut with the vignettes in which their lives unfold are several performances of the melodramatic short stories Jo writes in her attic studio.
Stephanie Prestage '19 dazzles as Jo March, the strong-willed, independent, creative main character based on Louisa May Alcott, herself. The ensemble cast hits all the marks, with delightful performances by stars of the Pittman stage, Lindsay Anne McCall '20 as Amy; Gwyn Jones '20 as Meg; Matilda McCard '21 as sweet Beth; Naomi Thombs '19 as the March matriarch Marmee; Katharine Collie '19 as Aunt March; Emma Lias '20 as Mrs. Kirk. The cast is rounded out by Christine Wang '20, Annie T. Ham '21, Annabel Semans '22, Emma Rose McCune '19, Charlotte Whiteford '21, Caroline Smith '20, Pipi Pi '22, and Pearce Burlington '21. Senior Victoria Fusco '19, violin, joins the professional musicians in the orchestra, directed by Jennifer Moran.
Performing the male roles are Jackson Fisk as Laurie Laurence, Clay Bradford as Professor Bhaer, Andrew Murgitroyd as Mr. Laurence, and Kieren Harrell as Mr. John Brooke.
An army of student stage managers, crew heads, and crew are hard at work behind the scenes putting the finishing touches on the sets, props, call board, costumes, sound, lighting, and all the important details that set the stage and keep the show running through the performance.
"Many of us grew up reading this story as children. For me, I remember my sister and I tucked in our twin beds while my mother and our toy Manchester dog piled on top of the covers to read nightly the adventures of the March sisters and their neighbor, Laurie," says Theatre Director Lou Whitmire Catania '77C. "We didn't stop there because my mother had all the Alcott books. She read to us, using different voices and emphasis, Rose in Bloom, Eight Cousins, and Little Men. What I remember most are characters rich with virtue, endurance, and optimism.
"While working with the musical book, I struggled with how the writers had changed the story to give it a contemporary perspective," says Catania. "The plot of the story has been changed to the struggles of a woman, Jo, to overcome every obstacle in order to find her personal fulfillment. The idea of virtue in self-sacrifice seems to have been eliminated. As the director, I worked with the actors to bring the authentic message of the story to the stage."
"Produced nationally and internationally, Little Women the Musical has been praised by critics for its ambition in adapting such a well-known story for the stage," reports Music Theater International. "This timeless, captivating story is brought to life in this musical filled with personal discovery, heartache, hope, and everlasting love. Little Women embodies the complete theatrical experience, guaranteeing a night filled with laughter, tears and a lifting of the spirit."
Little Women is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).
Come out to Pittman Auditorium, Feb. 15-16, to enjoy the magic of live musical theater presented by our talented visual and performing arts students. Free admission with donations accepted. General seating.