Marisa Vogel as Marmee March is beautifully expressive in songs demonstrating how she misses her husband and later describing her grief. Olivia Hacker makes a formidable Aunt March. The play’s men are also well portrayed. Morton Garringer as Laurie Laurence makes a nice sort of 19th century Justin Timberlake – affable, easygoing and fun. Otis Jeffries as Professor Bhaer strikes just the right balance between stuffy academic and tender romantic. Josh Maldonado as John Brooke delivers exactly the right look and squeaky voice of one struck by love at first sight.
There are some delightful devices employed in AU’s “Little Women.” When Elizabeth Ewigleben flits across the stage like a blue fairy and sets a sea shell down, you know you are at the beach. And when Timyael Barton as Beth March tugs on the kite, the audience is in for a beautiful metaphor. The play incorporates a brief but vivid play-within-a play where imagination rules, largely courtesy of costumers Natalie Maenhout and Cindra Venturella and choreographer Kenny Shepard.
While the production has many charming aspects, in rehearsal the actors were frequently overpowered by the orchestra, particularly scenes played out predominately upstage. Even downstage, there were moments when the projection of the actors is insufficient to follow dialogue or lyrics, especially when coupled with the accompaniment of the orchestra or the sound of other activity on the stage. No timing gaffes leapt out during rehearsal, and yet, the play was inordinately long. Intermission came a full one hour and a half into the production. Including a ten-minute break, the play in total ran beyond three hours.Finally, while this production of “Little Women” resonates deeply in terms of human compassion, the musical twist on the classic work is perhaps somewhat inauthentic.
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If you go: What: Musical production "Little Women" by Jason Howland, based on Louisa May Alcott's book, directed by James Leagre Where: Boze Lyric Theatre in Byrum Hall on the Anderson University Campus When: Oct. 4,5 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 6, 2:30 p.m., Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m., Oct. 12, 13, 2:30 p.m. Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 senior/military, $5 student. Call the box office for tickets at 641-4140.