Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Delightful, joyful ‘Little Women the musical’
EAST WINDSOR — Once again, the Opera House Players deliver a lovely, life affirming, and joyful show, “Little Women the musical.”
Based on the beloved book by Louisa May Alcott, the musical follows the fortunes of the four March sisters and their mother, whom they call Marmee, left behind in Concord, Mass. while their father fights in the Civil War.
It’s a delightful tale that was turned into a successful 1933 film starring a youthful Katherine Hepburn as the lead character, Jo.
In this musical, with music by Jason Howland and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, the story closely follows the original, with book by Allan Knee, and the results are highly entertaining.
Jo March is the aspiring writer of the family and has grand ambitions to become famous and solve all their financial woes, of which there are many. She creates fantastic, romantic “blood and guts” stories and operatic tragedies that are over the top and full of fun.
Meagan Hayes is wonderful as the determined, enthusiastic, headstrong Jo, who will not be denied.
Her well-to-do and imposing Aunt March (the terrific Mary Jane Disco) wants Jo to find a rich husband and marry well, if she will only behave like a lady, but Jo just can’t conform.
Her youngest sister, the petulant Amy March, is milder and reaps the benefits of Aunt March’s wealth.
Jessica Frye is well cast as the spoiled Amy who bristles under her sister’s shadow and in retaliation destroys one of her stories.
Kiernan Rushford couldn’t be better cast as the sweet and doomed Beth March with a beautiful voice.
Elizabeth Drevits is also excellent as the pretty sister Meg March, who falls in love with Mr. Brooke the tutor, played with sweet vulnerability by Dallas Hosmer.
Paul Lietz is very good and has a fine voice, playing Laurie, the wealthy and lonely grandson of Mr. Lawrence, played by Matthew Falkowski. Falkowski has a strong voice too and is well cast as the rigid and gruff Lawrence.
I hope I am not giving too much away when I say that Laurie falls for Jo, but she thinks of him as a brother. He ends up falling in love with Amy, who returns his affections.
Brett Gottheimer has a solid German accent and is believable as the serene and scholarly Professor Bhaer. Donna Schilke is the perfect mom, and has a warm alto voice, full of nurture and love.
Reva Kleppel rounds out the cast as the frazzled rooming house owner, Mrs. Kirk.
Costume designer Moonyean Field really outdid herself this time with the numerous and detailed period costumes that add much to the enjoyment of the production.
The sound system seems better than it has ever been. All the singers could be heard over the excellent music, directed by John Pike with music direction by Melanie Guerin.
The choreography by Kim Cordeiro is well rehearsed and fun.
This time the Opera House Players also have a slide projection backdrop that adds so much to the enjoyment of the show.
Most scenes (whether at the March home, Cape Cod, or from the Civil War) have photos or paintings projected on the backdrop that keep track of the many different scenes without having to move a lot of furniture around — a great and helpful addition to this show.
This excellent and well produced musical brings the touching and uplifting story of a girl finding her way in the world against great obstacles to life. It is inspiring and absolutely delightful.
Little women the musical
Theater: Opera House Players
Location: 107 Main St., Broad Brook section of East Windsor.
Production: Music by Jason Howland. Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein. Book by Allan Knee. Directed by John Pike. Music direction by Melanie Guerin. Choreography by Kim Cordeiro. Stage Manager Christine Zdebski. Costumes by Moonyean Field.
Show times: Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., through Sunday, Sept. 25.
Running time: 3 hours plus a 15-minute intermission.
Tickets: $21, $17 for seniors over 60 and children 12 and under. Call 860-292-6068 or visit: www.operahouseplayers.org
Meagan Hayes...... .Jo March
Elizabeth Drevits...Meg March
Kiernan Rushford....Beth March
Jessica Frye........Amy March
Mary Jane Disco.....Aunt March
Brett Gottheimer....Professor Bhaer
Dallas Hosmer.......Mr. Brooke
Matthew Falkowski...Mr. Lawrence
Reva Kleppel........Mrs. Kirk
Photos by Bob Lyke