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Review: LITTLE WOMEN at First Folio Theatre, Oak Brook IL

Review: LITTLE WOMEN at First Folio Theatre, Oak Brook IL

Production runs through January 15, 2023

Louisa May Alcott would approve.

The current production at First Folio Theatre in Oak Brook is an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic coming of age story during the Civil War of the four March sisters - Little Women. Most of us of a certain age read this book more than once. There are at least 4 film versions including the original (and in my opinion - the best) from 1933 starring Katharine Hepburn as Jo.

The script (beautifully written by Heather Chrisler) stays true to the original story. Under Melanie Keller's direction the story moves flawlessly and seamlessly through the years. Angela Weber Miller's set is a visual treat. The costumes by Uriel Gomez reflect the time period.

In her First Folio debut as Alcott's heroine and lead, Jo, Shelby Bias brought Jo to life as I believe she was meant to be shown. Exuberance, happiness and joy plus the self-doubt and sadness were all on display and the audience felt each emotion.

In this adaption, Esther Fishbein as Amy also portrayed John Brooke, Meg's (Stephanie Fongheiser) suitor. In turn, Stephanie also portrayed Prof. Bhaer, Jo's suitor. Jamie Herb had the dual roles of Beth and Laurie (Amy's suitor). Simply stated, it worked very well.

The play was 95 minutes without intermission. The production took some of the more memorable chapters of Alcott's book and presented them as scenes with some new dialogue which was written in Alcott's style. The way each scene is presented does not really promote or encourage applause. However, after Meg marries John Brooke and has a monologue, there is applause along with laughter - very much deserved!! The scene when the sisters say goodbye to Beth was incredibly poignant.

Seeing this production was like being with some very dear friends again. Do you need to know the story? Probably not but personally knowing the book enhanced my enjoyment of this production. In the additional dialogue, there is one moment that really hit home. "Do you love me? Oh yes. Then my life was not wasted". The story of the March sisters was always about love. Disagreements, disappointments and death but the love between the four of them prevailed. First Folio has staged a beautiful and timeless production. These 4 actors made this family come to life and it felt very real and normal. The audience was taken into their world and time. Art is supposed to do this to an audience. First Folio did just that. A good ending to 2022. Thank you.



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From This Author - Tina St. Angelo Wetzel

I live in Naperville IL, a Chicago suburb. Theater and the arts is a passion.  I have been to almost every theater venue in Chicago and the regional theaters including Drury Lane Oakbrook, Mar... (read more about this author)


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