ANDERSON — The four sisters and the matriarch of the tightly knit March family sing their way through the Anderson University musical production of “Little Women,” opening this weekend at the Boze Lyric Theatre in Byrum Hall. A talented cast, creatively costumed and choreographed, is accompanied by an orchestra in the pit to bring the story to life.
James Leagre directs the AU production. The musical was written by Allen Knee. Music was written by Jason Howland with lyrics by Mindi Dickstein. The orchestra is led by John Huntoon.
The story of "Little Women" is based on Lousia May Alcott's classic work. The inimitable Jo (Chelsea Leis), flighty Amy (Olivia Gnagey), solid Meg (Emily Bobel) and otherworldly Beth (Timyaek Barton) are the young women who bloom under the loving gaze of their mother, Marmee (Marisa Vogel), the beady attention of their aunt (Devan Cooney) and the attentions of several men. While the insular family copes with their father’s absence during the Civil War where he serves as a chaplain, each of the women embraces their own aspirations and shares in joys, tributlations and the tragedy of loss.
The cast is full of lovely voices, expressive faces and characters that elicit our empathy. The play is visually rich with imaginative costuming and choreography. The work brings a naïve charm, carried along by numerous songs which range from moody emotional fare to lively and upbeat, with several lovely duets. The play in rehearsal, however, was not without its challenges for the audience. Both the length of the performance and audibility of performers posed difficulties which will perhaps show improvement in production.
The women, garbed in an impressive collection of color-coded period fashion, dominate the stage. Chelsea Leis, as Jo, is the golden thread that weaves her way through the show. Leis does a great job of developing her character, displaying the full range of emotions and personal growth.