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BWW Reviews: LITTLE WOMEN, Old Rep Theatre Birmingham, April 30 2015

Telling the story of the March sisters growing up in Civil War America, Little Women has never really had the recognition it deserves as a musical. It only lasted for four months on Broadway and has had just a few short stints elsewhere. Based on Louisa May Alcott's semi-autobiographical novel, it is a very character-driven piece adapted for the stage by Allan Knee with music and lyrics by Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein respectively. BOA Musical Theatre have yet again recreated a wonderful production.

The set consists of a two-tier steeldeck structure lining the wings and upstage area, dressed artistically with dustsheets and book pages. Because of this set-up, there was little masking of the backstage areas and occasionally people could be seen but this was a minor distraction. Alex Johnson's lighting is excellent. It is a hard piece to light but he definitely had fun during 'The Weekly Volcano Press' and the other fictional excerpts from Jo's writing. There were literally only a couple of states that were a touch too acidic such as during 'More Than I Am' and 'Some Things Are Meant To Be' but as a whole, a solid design to be proud of. Stephen Whitson's direction is first-class and he definitely uses both levels to his advantage; the character choices are well moulded and you can tell Whitson has been paramount in this. Amy Ferguson's choreography alongside this is perfect for the piece; understated and not overdone which is exactly right. She has also found nuances in the music for certain moments which is real attention to detail. Michelle King leads the orchestra and has clearly done masses of work on the vocals. It is definitely a tricky piece musically and the time spent has paid off dividends.

The central character of the show is Jo, played by Elise Jones. Jo is bolshie, terribly unladylike and doesn't conform the way society wants her to. She is very headstrong and a true leader. Initially I thought Jones was trying a little too hard but as the piece progressed, she settled in to the role and appeared very confident as Jo. Her rendition of 'Astonishing' is superb and she sings beautifully during 'Some Things Are Meant To Be' with Louise Francis as Beth with sound harmonies. The other sisters, Meg and Amy, played by Mia Richards and Charlotte King, showed equal talent and as a quartet are very tight. A particularly beautiful moment is during 'More Than I Am' between Richards and Matthew Nicholas as Mr Brooke. Alex Cardall shone as Laurie with oodles of energy and this came across greatly in 'Take A Chance On Me'. Marmee played by Chelyr Hume gives a lovely emotion fuelled performance of 'Here Alone' and Bradley Walwyn is an excellent Professor Bhaer.

All in all, one of the strongest productions I have seen from BOA Musical Theatre. So much so, I'd go again if I could!

Little Women plays at the Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham until Saturday 2nd May 2015.

Photo Credit: James Garside



CLASSICAL CRACKERS Announced This Christmas At St Johns Smith Square Photo
St John’s Smith Square are marking the festive season with their 37th annual Christmas Festival. Top talent, from Vox Luminis to The Tallis Scholars, will gather in the heart of Westminster to perform timeless Christmas music. With the iconic hall at St John’s Smith Square decked in Christmas decorations, and mulled wine and mince pies sold in The Footstool Cafe, Christmas at St John’s Smith Square is set to be a cracker. 

Etcetera Theatre to Present MAN OF YOUR DREAMS in December Photo
Man of Your Dreams is coming to Etcetera Theatre 1 - 10 December. George has had a tough week. The job he loves, the job he has dedicated his twenties to, has let him go. Unemployed and listless, he winds up at Hamish's flat, his best and oldest friend.

Extra Dates Added to JaackMaates HAPPY HOUR PODCAST UK Tour Photo
Due to popular demand, the team behind the award-winning, smash hit Spotify podcast JaackMaate's Happy Hour, are adding extra dates to their first live UK tour.

Garth Marenghis TERRORTOME Book Tour Extends Photo
Garth Marenghi, the cult comedy character created by Matthew Holness, announces a 21-date extension across the UK, starting in February 2023, in support of his now Sunday Times Bestselling book 'TerrorTome'.  


From This Author - Jenny Antill


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