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Review: LITTLE WOMEN: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL at Artistry Theatre And Visual Arts

Small Theatre, Big Performances

Review: LITTLE WOMEN: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL at Artistry Theatre And Visual Arts

Little Women written by Louisa May Alcott, is perhaps known as one of the most formative literary works when it comes to young women. So, it may come as no surprise that it has been adapted countless times for the screen and stage, perhaps most notably the 2019 film directed by Greta Gerwig and the 2005 musical starring Sutton Foster in the star turning role of Jo March.

The most recent mounting of this story is currently running at Artistry Theatre and Visual Arts in Bloomington, Minnesota. It is a pared down but beautiful production that focuses on the characters themselves, rather than sets of grandeur. While the set may be mostly bare, save from two walls that continuously change with lighting effects to reflect the time of day or interiors of buildings accompanied by a handful of furniture pieces, it is all that is needed in a small theatre to convey the locations that the characters inhabit.

The main stars of the show are of course the music and the actors, both which shine brightly. Featuring music by Jason Howland and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, the tempo, melodies and lyrics lend themselves beautifully to the story that is being told on stage. As an avid listener of the original album, I found myself mouthing the words behind my mask and tapping my toe as the live orchestra played on enthusiastically.

To those who are unfamiliar with the music, be assured that there is hardly a weak link in the list of songs. From the triumphant "Astonishing", performed with passion by lead actress Madeline Trumble, to the gut wrenching "Days of Plenty", delivered with unbelievable rawness by Kersten Rodau, you are sure to feel every emotion on the spectrum.

I would be doing a disservice if I didn't single out Kersten Rodau who was a sensation as Marmee March. Her role is not the biggest but her performance was a standout amongst the eight person cast. She shows her star power right off the bat with the heart breaking "Here Alone" where she laments about her struggles of raising four young girls alone but refuses to reveal that pain in her letter to her husband who is serving in the war. As the production progressed, I found myself hoping for more of her in the story but I found that the less she was on stage, the more effective she was when she actually stepped out from the wings.

Playing off such a strong performance can be a challenge but the entire cast rises to the occasion and shows off their acting and vocal chops time after time. By the time we reach Ms. Trumble's "Astonishing", we have already experienced so much, emotionally, that we are looking for a powerful and inspiring act one finale to bring us home to intermission and we get it. Channeling her inner Sutton Foster, Ms. Trumble delivers a final note, selling every ounce of her emotion to the back row.

The book of the musical, adapted by Allan Knee, does its best to condense a massive book into a short amount of time and it becomes evident that he struggled a bit in the second act. It is almost too fast paced that we can't fully appreciate the growth that the characters experience. Although it feels rushed and more like a highlights reel than a story that evolves naturally, he hits the main points and still delivers the emotion that each character deserves.

As has been the case in the past, Artistry tackles shows that may be off the beaten path and this is no exception. They have put every bit of their blood, sweat and tears into presenting the best version of the story and for that I applaud them. Little Women: The Broadway Musical is playing at Artistry Theatre and Visual Arts in Bloomington through November 28th. It is the perfect holiday show to take in, especially on a chilly or snowy Minnesota night, so "Take a Chance" on them and I am certain you will have a wonderful night of local theatre.

Review: LITTLE WOMEN: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL at Artistry Theatre And Visual Arts ​​

Bradley Johnson, Matthew Hall (Photo Credit: Lucas Wells)

Review: LITTLE WOMEN: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL at Artistry Theatre And Visual Arts ​​

Brian Frutiger, Lauren Hugh (Photo Credit: Lucas Wells)

Review: LITTLE WOMEN: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL at Artistry Theatre And Visual Arts ​​

Madeline Trumble (Photo Credit: Lucas Wells)

Review: LITTLE WOMEN: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL at Artistry Theatre And Visual Arts ​​

Lauren Hugh, Madeline Trumble, Kersten Rodau,

Camryn Buelow, Shinah Hey (Photo Credit: Lucas Wells)

Review: LITTLE WOMEN: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL at Artistry Theatre And Visual Arts ​​

Angela Timberman, Madeline Trumble (Photo Credit: Lucas Wells)

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From This Author - Joe Sarafolean

Joe Sarafolean is a Twin Cities native who became captivated with the arts from a young age. His devotion to theatre began when he was cast in Annie in the 5th grade and since then, it has grown in... (read more about this author)


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Little Women written by Louisa May Alcott, is perhaps known as one of the most formative literary works when it comes to young women. So, it may come as no surprise that it has been adapted countless times for the screen and stage, perhaps most notably the 2019 film directed by Greta Gerwig and the 2005 musical starring Sutton Foster in the star turning role of Jo March.