The musical version of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” has the characters and story elements of the classic novel that people love, set to beautiful music by Jason Howlan. Lake City Playhouse’s production, with book by Allan Knee and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, features humor, a solid cast and excellent vocal performances.
“Little Women” centers on a mother and four young women – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March – who must maintain the household while their father serves in the Union army during the Civil War.
The story is told from the point of view of Jo, an irrepressible young woman with unabashed passion and a desire to become a writer. She is skillfully played by Bethany Smith, who exudes energy and strength, both in the character and her voice. Her “Astonishing” solo at the end of act one is particularly powerful.
“Could You,” a duet sung by Jo and her Aunt March (Teri Grubbs), is an example of the composer’s pleasing musical choices. Grubbs is quite funny as the prickly aunt. “Off to Massachusetts,” another duet, sung by Beth (Marta Myers) and snobby Mr. Laurence (Rick Boal) has a memorable tune.
Marmee’s “Here Alone,” sung by Melody Deatherage, is especially heartfelt. She makes a loving and genuine mother for the girls.
Equally as enjoyable are performances by Christine Mullaly (Meg), Caitlin Duffey (Amy), Conner Ealy (John Brooke) and Daniel J. Bell (Professor Bhaer). Brendan Brady, as Laurie, charms the girls and the audience.
The music is well directed by Zack Baker and well performed by the theater’s resident orchestra.
The technical aspects, such as the set and costumes, could complement the action, characters and talent better, though.
“Little Women,” directed by George Green, portrays a family’s love, delight and tragedy, all with equal heart and care. And it shows that even when people leave us, their spirits can live, sometimes through word and song – or a high-flying kite.