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BWW Review: A LITTLE WOMEN CHRISTMAS at Little Theatre Of Mechanicsburg

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A heartwarming story for the whole family

BWW Review: A LITTLE WOMEN CHRISTMAS at Little Theatre Of Mechanicsburg

Louisa May Alcott's classic tale Little Women was first published in 1868-1869. Featuring a family with four daughters-Amy, Beth, Jo, and Meg-the story takes place in Massachusetts during the Civil War. Little Women is a beloved novel that has captured the hearts and minds of many over the years. Its popularity has led to several adaptations for both the stage and the screen. Highlighting various portions of the story, Stephen Joseph Burke's play A Little Women Christmas is a tale of hope, faith, family, and love. A story for all ages, this play takes center stage at Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg November 27-December 12.

The set, music, lighting, and costumes are well designed. The set and music transport the audience to the March's cozy living room, complete with Christmas decorations and a lovely fireplace. The script is rather clunky, moving through a series of very short scenes. Because the scenes are so short, some of the scene changes feel a little long; however, the lighting helps move the story forward as the scenes shift in place and time. Costuming is particularly important in period pieces, and the costumes in this production do not disappoint. Director Meredith Hensel and her crew have put together a production that is visually lovely.

The story is an emotional peek into the life of a family dealing with a variety of struggles, yet finding strength in their faith and their love for one another. The cast, featuring Megan Giles (Meg March), Reilly Wilcox (Jo March), Audrie Noll (Beth March), Aurora Hicks (Amy March), Catherine Tyson-Osif (Marmee), Bobby Zaccano (Mr. March), Randi Johnson (Aunt March), Jessica Duran Steele (Hannah), A.J. Rhoads (Laurie), and Ted Williams (Mr. Lawrence), does a great job highlighting the themes of hope and love throughout the show. There are definitely some stand out performances during this production.

Megan Giles is lovely in her role as the responsible, image conscious Meg March, particularly in the scene where Meg and Jo are prepping for the ball. Randi Johnson and Catherine Tyson-Osif steal the spotlight in their scenes as Aunt March and Marmee. Johnson's Aunt March has a biting wit and strong personality that makes audiences sit up straight in their seats. Tyson-Osif's Marmee is warm, loving, and lights up the stage. Jessica Duran Steele is absolutely delightful in her role as Hannah the maid. She has wonderful stage presence, bringing her character to life in an authentic way. A.J. Rhoads takes the stage as Laurie, the neighbor who becomes an integral part of the March household. Rhoads is an agile actor, effortlessly moving from one scene to another, displaying great energy and emotion throughout the performance. Reilly Wilcox matches his performance in her role as Jo March, the stubborn, independent tomboy that has inspired generations of women. Wilcox does a great job highlighting the differences between Jo and her sisters while reminding everyone that there is great love between them even in the midst of their differences. The scenes between Rhoads and Wilcox are some of the best scenes in the show.

A nostalgic journey for those who are fans of Alcott's March family, A Little Women Christmas is a heartfelt play for this holiday season. It is a relatable play; as director Meredith Hensel comments in her director's note, "there are parallels between the March family's struggles and what many of us struggled with this past year during COVID. They were short on money, lived during a time when the country was greatly divided politically, and were missing loved ones dearly that they hadn't seen in more than a year." The overall message of love and hope shines through, making this a heartwarming holiday show for the family. Get your tickets at www.ltmpa.com.


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