BWW Reviews: LITTLE WOMEN: THE MUSICAL Is Astonishing at Avon Players
Now on stage at Avon Players is the musical adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, a parable of the ideal family in Civil War era Boston. The musical follows the book fairly closely, so if you are familiar with the book, you know the play. Little Women was one of the first books that many girls read as a child and has always held a special place in their hearts.
The original Alcott tale of Little Women takes place in Concord during the Civil War. It tells the story of four girls - Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy - whose father has gone off to become a chaplain for the Union. The girls live in a house with their mother and one servant named Hannah. Although they certainly cannot be considered destitute, they were once wealthy, lost money, and now consider themselves poor, at least compared to their friends in high society. The two older girls (especially Meg) remember the days when they had money and long for fine things. Meg merely wants to fit in with her friends and the rest of society, whereas Jo (Cassady Temple) just wants life to be easier for their family and especially for her mother (Lesa Bydalek).
The poignancy of losing a sister/daughter will probably make you love and appreciate your family even more than you already did after watching this show. It is moving and compelling. As the March sisters get slowly pulled apart, Jo finds a way to keep their love strong and keep the passion alive; she writes a novel. In the end, we have gone through love, friendship, loss, courage, and you have no choice but to have been changed, and to care for what you believe in, and to fight for what you must do.
The set design at Avon Players is truly eye-catching. Rustic wood panels flanking the stage sides form a lattice of rafters, while a triangle-shaped back panel features a circular cutout with perpendicular muntins. In my humble opinion, the muntins symbolize Jo's conundrum of being "in the cross-hairs" for holding opinions that are not popular in an old-fashioned society, or are too independent for pre-suffrage days. Jo fantasized about the adventures of buccaneering more than the virtues of becoming a submissive hausfrau. Her taste in storyline is more "blood and guts" than rainbows and kitties, and that is why the muntins stood out like a rifle's crosshairs to me.
Wealthy great aunt March (Joy Oetjens) attempts to seduce Jo into changing from rough to refined, but the proposition is an unmitigated disaster for the protagonist. Even the promise of a European grand tour fails to persuade Jo. That's OK, because at least one of the sisters got the windfall. Aunt March has a quirky outlook on life: "As we grow grand, Amy, the world around us often diminishes in size. I have known people who have almost disappeared before my very eyes."
Marmee suffers the proverbial existential crisis throughout the play, seeking to find her unique meaning in a country unstabilized by political turmoil.
The highlight of this show is Cassady Temple's solo, "Astonishing" which serves as the finale for act I. This young starlet has a voice that is Broadway bound, and a delightful stage presence that says "winner" over and over.
The Broadway version of this show won no Tony Awards, and critics wrote mixed reviews, but the Avon Players' production has garnered significant praise: Kim Clair Smith shared, "Just saw "Little Women: The Musical!" at Avon Players Theatre. Excellent production!! I'd forgotten the story because I hadn't read the book in over 40 years, so I was surprised to find myself fighting back tears a couple times. Very well done, and I'm so glad we finally "discovered" this gem of a live theatre practically in our backyard. It only took us 12 years to check it out...lol."
Emily Olson shared, "Avon Players is a fantastic theatre full of some of the most talented and dedicated people you could ever find. Whether you're looking to see a show or get involved in a show, this is the place!"
Cindy Kulish shared, "EXCELLENT SHOW! Loved every minute! Definitely a MUST see!"
Jackie Wanner shared, "Seen it today, it was fantastic!!!"
Michelle Peterson Simasko shared, "Oh my gosh. Absolutely amazing!! Bravo!"
There are several reasons that makes "Little Women" worth attending: a time-honored story, comfortable music, lovely sets and costuming. For tickets and information, kindly visit http://www.avonplayers.org/ .
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