LITTLE WOMEN Hits an Emotional Note at Villanova Theatre

Villanova Theatre proudly presents Little Women: The Broadway Musical, book by Allan Knee, music by Jason Howland, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, and directed by Valerie Joyce. Based on Louisa May Alcott's American classic, this beloved Civil War story of love, family, and independence stands the test of time, coming to life at Villanova Theatre March 28 - April 9, 2017. Alcott's semi-autobiographical novel has captivated readers' imaginations for more than 140 years. Reflecting the experiences she had growing up with her sisters in New England, Alcott's timeless story is one the of the most widely read novels in the English language. Tracing the adventures of the four young March sisters, Little Women: The Broadway Musical has been praised by critics for its ambition in adapting such a iconic work of literature for the stage.

Book writer Allan Knee, whose writing inspired the Oscar-nominated film Finding Neverland, spent a decade adapting Little Women for the stage. Exploring universal themes of love, independence, and hope, Alcott's coming-of-age story has been transformed into a soaring musical that offers something for everyone. With her father fighting for the Union on a Civil War battle field, the unassailable Jo March tucks herself away in the attic and writes a spirited story inspired by her three devoted sisters. There's Meg the hopeless romantic, Amy the extravagant one, and the kind-hearted Beth. Living in a war-torn America, the lives of these New England sisters unfold across the stage, intercut with vignettes of Jo's wildly imaginative short stories.

This astonishing musical is a tale filled with adventure and imagination, heartache and hope, as the struggles of these "little women" to find their voices mirrors the growing pains of a young America. Production Dramaturg Sean Connolly, says "Little Women explores a part of Civil War history that is not often discussed, in particular the struggle for women on the home front. For those in the new and emerging middle class, historians have often not explored their troubles. Jo March, who transforms into a strong woman without the help of a father or husband, would have been extraordinary in America back then. It is even more fascinating because Jo's incredible story was inspired by Louisa May Alcott's own life."

Little Women: The Broadway Musical is sure to capture the hearts of a new generation with its buoyant, joyful melodies, memorable characters, and big-hearted message. Director Valerie Joyce says, "In Little Women, four adventurous young women cross implicit and explicit borders as they mature into adulthood. As they dream and act out their lives, they cross-dress, cross oceans, cross gendered work boundaries, confound domestic expectations, and even cRoss One another, as loyalty and love are tested on the way to finding different ways to be a "successful" woman. Jo ultimately emerges as a modern woman, intent on her own publishing success and chooses a partner in life who accepts her and challenges her to become a better version of herself."

This vibrant story springs to life on stage with the help of an award-winning creative team. Music Director Peter A. Hilliard captures the sweep of Howland's charming and emotional score to life with the help of Sound Designer John Stovicek. Janus Stefanowicz' impressive period costume design will transport audiences into the late 1800's with hoop skirts and top hats, featuring over 60 costumes. Set Designer Joshua Gallagher's rich, elegant design highlights the power of nostalgia, memory, family and love. Lighting Designer Jerold Forsyth returns to illuminate the adventures of the March sisters and the evocative world of Jo's fictional stories.

The powerful cast includes acting scholars Chris Monaco (Laurie Laurence), Dan Cullen (Professor Bhaer), Kara Krichman (Meg March), and Megan Slater (Mrs. Kirk,); second-year Graduate Assistants Laura Barron (Jo March), Kevin Esmond (Mr. Laurence); second-year graduate students Michael Franz (Chorus), Lexi Schreiber (Marmee March), and Mark Wheeler (Mr. John Brooke); as well as part-time students Galen Blanzaco (Aunt March/Hag), and first-year graduate students Marissa Kennedy (Chorus), Heather Lemos (Chorus), and Villanova undergraduate students Jaclyn Siegel (Amy March) and Allyce Morrissey (Beth March). Little Women: The Broadway Musical runs at Villanova Theatre from March 28 - April 9, 2017. Following the performance on Thursday, April 6th Villanova Theatre will host Speaker's Night featuring the insights of a special guest (details to be confirmed), as well as those of the production's director Valerie Joyce and dramaturg Sean Connolly. Villanova Theatre is located on the Villanova University campus in Vasey Hall (at Lancaster & Ithan Aves.). Performances will be held Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets run $21-$25, with discounts available for seniors, students, M.A. in Theatre alumni, and groups. Tickets may be purchased at the Villanova Theatre Box Office (M-S, 12 -5 p.m.) in person, by phone: (610) 519-7474, or online at www.villanovatheatre.org.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Valerie Joyce has been performing, directing, or designing on stage at Villanova Theatre for more than 20 years and currently serves as the Interim Chair of the Villanova University Theatre Department. Villanova credits include: Translations, The Light in the Piazza, Carousel, Batboy: The Musical, Annie Get Your Gun, Cabaret, and Talley's Folly. Other credits include: The Meat Opera and Up Your Ante for the New York and Philadelphia International Fringe Festivals, and Thank You for Sharing with Amaryllis Theatre Company. Valerie has also worked as a professional costume designer for local and regional productions including Six Story Building (Off Broadway), The Real Thing (Arden Theatre Company), Moon for the Misbegotten (Venture Theatre),True West and Waiting for Godot (Lantern Theatre Company), Billy and Zelda (Opera Delaware), and The Comedy of Errors (Princeton Repertory), as well as many university productions. She has also written a one-woman show dramatizing the lost stories of African American women pre-emancipation titled I Will Speak for Myself.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

Playwright Allan Knee Allan Knee has written for the stage and film. His play, The Man Who Was Peter Pan, was released by Miramax Films as Finding Neverland in October 2004. It costars Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet and Dustin Hoffman. Syncopation won an American Theatre Critics Award after premiering at the Long Wharf Theater and George Street Playhouse. It will open this fall on Broadway, produced by Vaud Massarsky, directed by John Tillinger and choreographed by John O'Connell (Strictly Ballroom). His musical version of Little Women won a Richard Rodgers Musical Theater Award. Among his other works are Shmulnik's Waltz (music by David Shire), Santa Anita '42, The Minister's Black Veil, St. Valentine's Day Massacre and Sholem Aleichem Lives, which toured with Theodore Bikel. For young audiences he adapted Around The World In 80 Days, which toured nationally for TheaterWorks/USA. For PBS he wrote the four-part adaptation of The Scarlet Letter. Allan is a graduate of the Yale Drama School and a founding member of the Workshop Theater Company.

ABOUT THE COMPOSER

Jason Howland is a 1993 graduate of Williams College with an Honors degree in Music Composition. Last Season, Howland's play (written with Larry Pellegrini), Blessing In Disguise, premiered Off-Broadway. He was the musical supervisor for Wildhorn Productions, serving as musical director and conductor for the long-running Broadway hit JEKYLL & HYDE, and musical supervisor for Broadway's The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Civil War. He was chosen to be the last Music Director of the Broadway mega-hit Les Miserables, and had the honor of conducting the final performance of that show at the Imperial Theater. He was also the Music Director for the Broadway-bound Taboo by Boy George, produced by Rosie O'Donnell. Howland has worked as an arranger, conductor, writer and producer on a number of recording projects, including the Grammy-nominated cast album of Jekyll & Hyde (Musical Director/Conductor/Vocal Arranger). He has conducted in concert across the country for such notables as Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Brandy, Bebe & Cece Winans, Carl Anderson, Linda Eder, Sebastian Bach and Davis Gaines, and was musical director and conductor for the opening ceremonies of the1998 The Goodwill Games held in New York City. Howland has a co-publishing deal with Cherry Lane Music Publishing, Inc. and is at work on two other musicals, Mariel and Quickstep.

ABOUT THE LYRICIST

Mindi Dickstein's songs have been performed widely, most notably as part of Lincoln Center's American Songbook ("Hear and Now: Contemporary Lyricists") and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. She is currently writing lyrics for a musical based on the MGM movie Benny and Joon (developed in workshop at the Transport Group in New York and on retreat at Running Deer Musical Theater Lab and TheatreWorks Palo Alto), with music by Nolan Gasser and book by Kirsten Guenther. Other current projects include lyrics for Faerie Tale, selected for the Rhinebeck Writer's Retreat, with book by Chantal Bilodeau and music by Peter Melnick, and lyrics for Snow in August, based on the novel by Pete Hamill, with music by Peter Melnick and book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Her monologue Starving to Death in Midtownhas been performed worldwide as part of the Climate Change Theater Action / COP 21. She wrote book and lyrics for Six Feet Under, with music by Melnick for Prospect Theater Company's By the Numbers. She contributed a short musical (book and lyrics) to Notes Across a Small Pond (Bridewell Theater, London) and wrote the book for A Wind in the Willows Christmas, commissioned by the Two River Theater, with music by Mike Reid and lyrics by Sarah Schlesinger. She wrote book and lyrics for Trip, an original musical commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, with music by Daniel Messé; book for Toy Story - The Musical, with songs by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda (Groovelily), commissioned by Disney Creative Entertainment; and book and lyrics for several musicals for the nationally acclaimed Theatreworks USA, including Nate the Great and The Mystery of King Tut. Her plays include The Existential Gourmet (Jane Chambers Award) and Guadeloupe (Westbeth Theater Center). Other awards and honors include: Jonathan Larson Foundation Award, a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Playwriting Fellowship and two New York Foundation for the Arts Playwriting Fellowships, ASCAP Workshop Bernice Cohen Award, Second Stage Constance Klinsky Award for Excellence in Musical Theater, and a PEN International New Playwright Award (selected by Wendy Wasserstein). Mindi received her MFA from New York University's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, where she was an Oscar Hammerstein Fellow and where she now serves on the faculty.

ABOUT VILLANOVA THEATRE

Villanova Theatre is a community of artist-scholars committed to transforming hearts and minds through the visionary production of classical, modern, and contemporary dramatic literature. Our work is fueled by the imaginative striving common to Villanova's accomplished faculty, versatile staff, and energetic graduate students. Together, we are devoted to creating a vibrant theatre enriched by and overflowing with the ideas explored in our classrooms. In all of our endeavors, we aim to share the dynamic experience of collaborative learning with our audiences in order to engage the intellect and stir the soul. As a facet of Villanova University, Villanova Theatre serves the campus community as well as thousands of theatre-goers from the Main Line and the Greater Philadelphia area.

ABOUT VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY

Since 1842, Villanova University's Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges - the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Charles Widger School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.



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