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Review: LITTLE WOMEN at Round Barn Theatre

Now playing through October 23rd

Review: LITTLE WOMEN at Round Barn Theatre
The March sisters in the Round Barn Theatre's production of LITTLE WOMEN.

LITTLE WOMEN opened last weekend at the Round Barn Theatre in Nappanee. Directed by Alex E. Price, this production is the perfect show to warm hearts as the chill of autumn begins to set in.

Little Women's one of those classic stories that I feel like everyone knows and loves: Jo March, the outspoken sister with dreams of becoming a writer; Meg March, the older romantic; Beth March, with a heart of gold; and Amy March, the youngest sister who's self-centered but caring. The experiences of these four sisters, plus their mother Marmee, weave a family-centered story of triumph and tragedy during Civil War-America.

I've read the original book by Louisa May Alcott, and seen the filmed versions old and new, but I've never had the privilege of seeing the musical version of this story until it opened at the Round Barn Theatre this week!

The performances of the titular "little women" bring this story to life in the best way. Erin Tierney's physical comedy and tone of voice as Amy is absolutely stellar. From the beginning of the musical until the end, Tierney really manages to successfully showcase Amy's character growth. Rachel Peters's performance as Meg is sweet and hopeful, especially in her duet numbers. Beth's character is the one that surprised me the most; Molly Hill's portrayal of Beth is unexpectedly spunky, and her overflowing liveliness and vivacity in the first act means that the action of the second act will pack an especially poignant punch for audiences. Finally, Jaclyn Kelly Shaw is an absolutely stunning Jo March, who brings the whole group together with her intensity and drive. Her performance of "Astonishing," as well as every other number featuring Jo, was jaw-droppingly exhilarating. And whenever all four sisters were on stage together, their group dynamic shone in every interaction and in every perfectly harmonized note. These four ladies drove the show.

Review: LITTLE WOMEN at Round Barn Theatre
From left: Amy (Erin Tierney), Meg (Rachel Peters, Laurie (Matthew Martinez Malecki), Jo (Jaclyn Kelly Shaw), and Beth (Molly Hill)

That being said, all supporting characters' performances were equally impressive, such as Marmee's emotional solo song "Here Alone," in which Marmee's actress Molly Samson tugged on the audience's heartstrings as she reminds us of the courage it takes to parent a family alone. Matthew Martinez Malecki played the most adorably earnest Theodore Laurence as well. His Laurie hit all the right notes, both literally and metaphorically; his featured numbers were immense fun. And this production of the musical managed to do what no other iteration of Little Women has ever managed to do for me, which is-- make me actually love Professor Bhaer, Jo's German friend and later love interest from the boarding house. Caleb Shaw's Professor was perfectly awkward, yet he had genuine chemistry with Jo, which in retrospect should have been unsurprising since I'd seen the pair as the incredible romantic leads in WHEN CALLS THE HEART: THE MUSICAL from the Round Barn earlier this year.

Besides the stunning performances, the set design, costumes, and effects also work well together to emphasize key elements of the story. The scenic design of this production, with moments such as the shadow play during Jo's opening song and the flying kite in the second act's "Some Things Are Meant to Be," was a visual delight that also made an emotional impact just at the right moments.

With the lovable March family at its center, the Round Barn Theatre's production of LITTLE WOMEN exudes so much pure heart and passion that audiences will be sure to cherish every minute.

For more information, see the Round Barn Theatre's website. LITTLE WOMEN runs through October 23 at 1600 W. Market St. in Nappanee, and you can book your tickets online HERE.

Photos courtesy of the Round Barn Theatre.

Review: LITTLE WOMEN at Round Barn Theatre

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