Review: A.D. Players' LITTLE WOMEN: THE MUSICAL Is the Theatrical Equivalent to Curling Up With a Good Book

By: Jun. 24, 2016
The Cast of Little Women: The Musical.
Photography by Joey Watkins & Jeff McMorrough.

The titular "little women" of Louisa May Alcott's English class standard are the four March sisters - Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy. Together with their mother Marmee, and anchored by the spirited Jo, the girls attempt to reconcile societal expectations with their own dreams and desires as they approach womanhood during the last years of the Civil War. And LITTLE WOMEN: THE MUSICAL, based on Alcott's semi-autobiographical novel, with lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, music by Jason Howland and book by Allan Knee, is currently playing on the A.D. Players' Grace Theater stage.

LITTLE WOMEN: THE MUSICAL is quite the curiosity -- a musical that isn't particularly enhanced or defined by its music. But though the music may be mostly forgettable, the voices in the A.D. Players' production are not. And neither are the performances. It is the cast that ultimately elevates this admittedly simplistic but feel-good show to one of the must-sees of the summer -- and it begins and ends with Shanae'a Moore.

Moore plays Jo March, the independent, pants-wearing writer of the family. As Jo, Moore leaps across the stage, waves her arms, and smiles big. She's a fixer, a make-things-better, figure-it-out-herself kind of person, and Moore plays it beautifully -- just as well as she plays Jo's moments of unease, the times when things are not in her control. And a special mention to Moore, who was seemingly unphased when her mic went out toward the end of the first act. She carried on like a trooper, her voice still soaring all the way to the back of the room.

The show truly shines when all four "little women" are on stage together - Moore's spirited exuberance, Connor Lyon's quiet sweetness, Haley Landers' childish pout, and Amanda Parker's refined romanticism are an absolutely enchanting blend. They complement each other well. As Marmee, Shondra Marie exudes maternal warmth and, to borrow a phrase from Brienne when she pledged herself to Catelyn Stark, "a woman's kind of courage," a quiet strength underscored and made all the more impressive by the vulnerability she shows in her lovely solo "Here Alone."

Ric Hodgin plays gruff neighbor Mr. Laurence with an intimidating and exasperated air, but even he is not immune to the girls' charm. Hodgin joins Lyon for a delightful, toe-tapping duet in "Off to Massachusetts," an unexpectedly catchy little ditty. And as Mr. Laurence's nephew Laurie, Braden Hunt noticeably struggled vocally, but his goofy grin and general likability was an overall welcome presence on stage.

And a high point of the show is the moment we reach the conclusion of Jo's rewritten blood and guts story in "The Weekly Volcano Press." Almost the entire cast plays a part, with both the March and Laurence family members taking on fun dual roles.

Both set and costumes combined to do a great job evoking Civil War-era Concord, Massachusetts. And the set was also quite practical; scene changes were smooth as the story moved from the March family attic to the living room or even a dark, shadowy part of a faraway forest. Especially well-placed was the corner nook that came to represent New York, both aside and emphasizing the primary narrative.

The A.D. Players production of LITTLE WOMEN: THE MUSICAL makes for an incredibly enjoyable night at the theatre. But I will warn that it was a bit of a long night. Before the show, we were warned that the first act runs about an hour and 20 minutes, but we were promised that it wouldn't feel that long. It didn't, but the same could not be said of the second act. Another hour, after a 30 minute intermission, tested a bit of my patience. Still, I recommend you go. LITTLE WOMEN: THE MUSICAL is one that will leave you feeling good on the inside -- there are no real villains and it's not really a spoiler to say that, despite the requisite adversity, it pretty much works out in the end. So go and appreciate the good humor, the family values, and all the hard work of a very talented cast and crew.

LITTLE WOMEN: THE MUSICAL runs through July 10 on the A.D. Players' Grace Theater stage at 710 West Alabama Street, Houston, 77098. For more information, please visit


Review: A MAROONS GUIDE TO TIME AND SPACE Gets Funky with Abolition at Catastrophic Theatr Photo
Review: A MAROON'S GUIDE TO TIME AND SPACE Gets Funky with Abolition at Catastrophic Theatre

This isn’t a play, it’s some sort of intergalactic space time hiccup that just happens at the MATCH complex to kick off your summer. It’s very hip, lively, and a great dose of WTF and OMG simultaneously. Like Janelle Monae says, “Girl, this is craziness. Let me tell you!”

Tickets Now On Sale For Gilbert & Sullivan Society Of Houstons THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE Photo
Tickets Now On Sale For Gilbert & Sullivan Society Of Houston's THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE At Hobby Center For The Performing Arts

Tickets to Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Houston's July production of The Pirates of Penzance at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts are now on sale to the public. Two performances are set for Saturday evenings (July 22 and July 29), while two are Sunday matinees (July 23 and July 30).

Review: WICKED THE MUSICAL at Hobby Center For The Performing Arts Photo
Review: WICKED THE MUSICAL at Hobby Center For The Performing Arts

Wicked: The Musical has been enchanting audiences worldwide for years, and the current touring production is no exception. With its mesmerizing performances, breathtaking set design, and unforgettable music, this production offers a spellbinding experience that will leave you spellbound.

Interview: Ballerina Mackenzie Richter Tells BroadwayWorld About the Magic and Spectacle o Photo
Interview: Ballerina Mackenzie Richter Tells BroadwayWorld About the Magic and Spectacle of Houston Ballet's SWAN LAKE

The Houston Ballet's 2022-2023 season is ending with one of ballet's greatest love stories, SWAN LAKE. I had the chance to speak with Mackenzie Richter, one of the ballerinas portraying Odette/Odile, and they gave me some insight into their experience of performing this iconic lead role and shared what makes this certain production so special.

From This Author - Natalie de la Garza

What do Peja Stojakovic, Richard Kline, and Weird Al Yankovic all have in common? The answer: their autographs all reside amongst Natalie’s most prized possessions. A Rice graduate with what som... (read more about this author)


#repshow# in[i]# Leading Ladies
Rotunda Theater at St. Luke's UMC (6/15-6/18)Tracker
#repshow# in[i]# Julius Caesar
UHCL Bayou Theater (6/15-6/18)
#repshow# in[i]# Torera
Alley Theatre (5/12-6/11)
#repshow# in[i]# Ain’t Too Proud
The Hobby Center (8/08-8/13)
#repshow# in[i]# The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Crighton Theatre (8/11-8/20)
#repshow# in[i]# Alley All New Festival
Alley Theatre (6/15-6/25)
#repshow# in[i]# The Butler Did It
Cast Theatrical Company (6/09-6/18)CAST
#repshow# in[i]# Phenomenal Woman
The Ensemble Theatre (6/24-7/30)
#repshow# in[i]# The Servant of Two Masters
Alley Theatre (6/09-7/02)
#repshow# in[i]# Secret in the Wings
Creative Movement Practices (7/07-7/22)

Recommended For You