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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Review: Performers shine in CdA Summer Theatre’s ‘Little Women’

Victoria Evans, left, is Jo March and Ariana Ferch is Beth March in “Little Women” at Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre.  (Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre)

The cast of Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s “Little Women” gave stunning vocal performances at Sunday’s matinee show.

Based on Louisa May Alcott’s novel of the same name, the musical follows the March sisters – Meg, the eldest; Jo, the free-spirited writer; Beth, the thoughtful musician; and Amy, the romantic – and their beloved mother, Marmee. Set during the Civil War in Concord, Massachusetts, a story for each sister unfolds as Jo learns to tell her own.

On the whole, for structural reasons, this musical is not my favorite adaptation of Alcott’s work.

Much like Jo’s early “blood and guts” stories in this piece – which I cannot remember being anywhere near as terrible in either the book or its various film adaptations – the musical oscillates between sincerity and melodrama, resulting in a series of increasingly unearned emotional beats that left me feeling ambivalent about a story that I’ve loved since childhood.

But Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s production did provide ample opportunity for the cast from top to bottom to showcase their vocal skills. And that was delightful.

The stunning harmonies between the four sisters – Victoria Evans as Jo, Kamaluonalani Matthias as Meg, Ariana Ferch as Beth and Chloe Kelly as Amy – and Marmee (Ann Benson) absolutely sparkled.

Finally, I have to give a big shout-out to David Eldridge, the last-minute stand-in for the role of Professor Bhaer. Barely given four hours to prepare the role for Saturday night’s performance, Eldridge was easily one of the most compelling performers on stage. If we hadn’t been informed that he was a last-minute replacement, I never would have guessed. Bravo.

Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s “Little Women” reviewed Sunday, July 24 at the Schuler Performing Arts Center on the North Idaho College campus, continues though Sunday. For showtimes and tickets, visit www.cdasummertheatre.com.