Review: LITTLE WOMEN ASTONISHES AUDIENCE MEMBERS IN JACKSON at Thalia Mara Hall

This production is a not-to-be-missed adaptation of a timeless tale.

By: Feb. 14, 2024
Review: LITTLE WOMEN ASTONISHES AUDIENCE MEMBERS IN JACKSON at Thalia Mara Hall
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What do you get when you take a fiercely determined young woman, her three vastly different but equally loyal sisters, an imagination that can create whole operatic tragedies in the space of an old attic?  Little Women the Musical, which made a stop at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson, Mississippi on February 6th.  The second in the Broadway in Jackson season presented by Trustmark, the show brought to life a story beloved by generations and set it to music.  Presented by Big League Productions, Inc., the production itself ran the entire gamut of emotion in just a couple of hours.

Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, what the tour lacks in overly intricate sets and props, it more than makes up for in creativity and gripping enthusiasm.  Not heavy on choreographed dance numbers, the cast takes the moments that do call for dancing and run full out with them.  Where the show really comes into its own is in the acting and singing brought forth by each actor and actress on stage. With a book by Allan Knee and music and lyrics by Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein respectively, the entire production is extremely powerful and impactful.

While the story features all 4 March sisters, the plot largely centers around how the second oldest daughter, Jo, sets out to break social constructs put on women, and how she reacts to different situations that come up in her personal life. Played by Hannah Taylor, Jo sets out on a journey of self-discovery after realizing that the dreams she has are much bigger than life in Concord, Massachusetts can offer to her, especially in her literary endeavors. With fiery passion, she tackles the central role with aplomb and takes on the show-stopping theatre number “Astonishing” admirably.  Older sister, Meg (Rachel Pantazis), has no such towering ambitions and settles happily into the role of housewife to Mr. John Brooke (Aaron Robinson). Mr. Brooke just happens to be the tutor of Laurie Laurence, the young man who lives across the way and becomes Jo’s best friend. Played by Aathaven Tharmarajah, who came through Jackson last season with Legally Blonde the Musical, Laurie has his own reasons for spending time with the March girls, much to his grandfather’s dismay. Laurie’s grandfather, Mr. Laurence, played by Tharmarajah’s fellow Legally Blonde alum Chris Carsten, softens throughout the performance and develops an affinity for the second youngest March sister, Beth (Camryn Hamm).  Beth’s life plays a crucial role in Jo’s future success in writing, just not in the way any of the sisters or their mother, Marmee (Aaron Bower), had ever imagined.  Through the family’s grief, the storytelling reached new depths and touched audience members to the very core.  Youngest sister Amy (Noa Harris) brings the family back together, connecting with Laurie on a trip to Europe with the aunt she lived with briefly, Aunt March (Moriel Behar), and unintentionally bringing Professor Fritz Bhaer (Mychal Leverage), someone with great influence in Jo’s journey to become a published author, to Concord.  There, he will convince Jo to take a risk that, in spite of all of her outlandish-for-her-time dreams and schemes, she had never considered for herself. 

It takes a significant of skill, heart, and bravery to even attempt to take a story so well loved the world over and bring it to new audiences in a format they may not be familiar with. This cast makes it look far easier than it is, and they infuse their performance with absolute respect for not only their version of it, but for Louisa May’s writing itself.  If you’re a fan of Little Women, this production is not something you’ll want to miss.

Tickets for future stops of Little Women the Musical can be found at the link below:


 



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