Brown Paper Box Co presents Little Women the Musical
Based on Louisa May Alcott’s novel, the musical follows the adventures of the March Sisters – Jo (Tessa Dettman), Beth (Sarah Ford), Amy (Kim Green), and the eldest, Meg (Andi Sharavsky). At the center is Jo – the second oldest sister, and a young woman with a dream to see the world and become a famous writer. She has no interest in settling into the expected role of a woman in the Civil War era, and will stop at nothing to make those dreams a reality, and create the best possible life for her and her sisters.
Of course, because of the time period, Jo’s dreams meet their obstacles. The March Sisters’ father is off at war, her wealthy Aunt March (Jenny Rudnick) has goals for her entrance into society that do not quite match her own, and while the elder women in her life want her to marry, she wishes to remain single and with her sisters. The story is one about perseverance, passion, and the power a woman can have when she believes in herself.
With lyrics by Mindi Dickstein and music by Jason Howland, the musical features a score that jumps through time and brings to life the dreams and love of these characters – in particular the young women in the March family.
Most famous might be Astonishing, Jo’s thrilling number that concludes Act One, detailing the life changes on which this woman is about to embark to make her dreams of writing novels come true. Some Things Are Meant to Be highlights the beautiful relationship between Jo and her younger sister Beth, a number that in this writer’s opinion is brought to life through a lovely sense of chemistry between Ford and Dettman. Take a Chance on Me marks the beginning of the friendship between Laurie (Will Kazda) and Jo, one that would take many twists and turns over the course of the musical. Kazda, in this writer’s view, portrays the character with a certain sense of innocence and charm that makes this number in particular exciting to watch unfold.
Creative Use of Space
Scenic Designer and Production Manager Jeremy Hollis utilizes an alley format for the stage, placing the audience on either side of a runway for the actors to use. Though this format at times created some obstacles for sightlines in this writer’s view, Directors Stephanie Rohr and M. William Panek also find some fun moments to utilize the space and play with varying modes of moving actors through the story – particularly in Weekly Volcano Press.
In this number that kicks off Act Two, Jo details her new story that she just completed. As she sings through the details, ensemble members enter on either end of the space, playing out the scenes as she describes them. Rohr and Panek create an exciting way to physicalize Jo’s story, allowing the words to come to life and consume the space as she becomes increasingly excited about her work.
From this writer's view, the musical itself brings the novel to life, but the production felt at times messy. The aforementioned strengths make this writer think that with time, the show as a whole will also bring this treasured classic novel to the stage in a cleaner way.
Running through February 9, 2019
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 3:30pm and 7:30pm
Sundays at 3:30pm
Running Time: 2 hours and 12 minutes, with intermission
1802 W. Bernice Avenue
Chicago, IL 60613
About the Author:
Lauren Katz is a freelance director and dramaturge, and new to the Chicago Theatre Scene. She recently moved from Washington DC, where she worked with Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Company Management, as well as directed around town with various theaters.
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