McLean Community Players Little Women, the Broadway MusicalBy Mari Davis • Jul 22nd, 2010 • Category: Reviews
McLean Community Players
Alden Theater, McLean, VA
Through July 31st
3:00 with one intermission
$19/$17 Seniors and students
Reviewed July 18th, 2010
The McLean Community Players’ production of Little Women has fantastic talent, but other aspects of the show brought the quality of enjoyment down.
Little Women is the beloved story of four close-knit sisters who vow to stay together, no matter what. However, the best intentions of the young women crumble as life’s twists and turns change the family dynamics.
Director Bill Schreiner’s cast is superb. Every individual was a strong actor and talented singer. It would have been ideal had music director Elisa Rosman adapted the song “Take A Chance on Me” to better suit singer Glen North’s vocal range.
Mimi Preda, playing the lead role as Jo March, was a dynamic force on the stage. Her vocal expression and versatility was excellent. Even though the show runs almost three hours long, her energy never flagged.
June Schreiner, who got a special mention in my review of Bye-Bye Birdie, performed the role of Amy March. True to form, her vivacity and expressiveness was worthy of particular note. Schreiner and Preda artfully cultivated tension between the sisters without being over-the-top.
Elements that did not fully lend themselves to the artistic expression of the production were sound, lighting design, and costumes in the second half of the show.
For almost every one of the musical numbers, the microphones and the orchestra were out of balance. Jo’s microphone was especially low throughout the first act. During the second act, they were too loud. Ensemble numbers were overpowering because the microphones were close together. Actively monitoring and balancing sound levels throughout the show would improve the auditory quality.
Lighting design by Chris Hardy was artistic, but poorly executed. There were large areas onstage that were not lit at all. The gels used for many scenes colored the light too harshly and ended up making actors look sickly. Fuller stage illumination and more subtle gel colors would have been ideal. On a positive note, the seashore lighting was especially lovely, creating depth and motion in one fell swoop.
I have acknowledged before that costumes are often the most difficult items to acquire in community theater. However, that being said, costume designers Claire Yenson and Charlotte Marson went eighty percent of the way and then seem to have lost their wind. Amy’s traveling dress did not fit well and rode up in the back revealing her skin. Her “wedding dress” appeared to be little more than period underclothes. Marmee’s final costume was an odd combination of white lace, black fringe, and purple polka dots.
Little Women is definitely a ladies’ show. The story doesn’t lend itself to a lot of action, instead focusing on the emotional development of the characters. The show runs a full three hours, which older audiences can enjoy, but younger viewers may become fidgety.
Photos provided by the McLean Community Players.
Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” is a much loved book filled with rich characters that audiences of all ages will thrill to see brought to life. Staying true to those characters is our starting point. The amazing music and lyrics by Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein as sung by our talented cast, take the audience beyond events of the book and on a journey deep into the hearts of Alcott’s characters.
As the soul of this story is Jo’s quest to realize her personal destiny. Set in a time when most women had little control over their lives, Jo’s determination is an inspiration. But it takes more than that to succeed. it is only after Jo experiences profound loss, learns to incorporate the wisdom of others, and allows herself to love and be loved is she able to break through and accomplish her dreams.
Each of us yearns to connect with our own unique personal destiny. This is an essential aspect of being human. Through Jo’s journey, I hope our audience will be reminded of the importance of their own dreams and have their faith in their ability to achieve them renewed.
- Professor Bhaer: Brent Stone
- Jo March: Mimi Preda
- Amy March/Troll: June Schreiner
- Meg March/Clarissa: Jolene Vettese
- Beth March/Rodrigo 2: Maddy Curtis
- Marmee March/Hag: Lisa Anne Bailey
- Mr. Laurence/Knight: Bob Chaves
- Laurie Laurence/Rodrigo: Glen North
- Aunt March: Roberta Chaves
- John Brooke/Braxton: Mark Hamburger
- Mrs. Kirk: Jessie Roberts
- Cape Cod Girls: Abigail Anderson, Lauren Jacobs, Asa Meyer, Cara Schaumburg
- Director: Elisa Rosman & Blakeman Brophy
- Violin: Michele Jacobs
- Violin 2: Kelley Williams
- Viola: Margie Bassman
- Cello: Virginia Gardner
- Bass: Rick Netherton
- Percussion: Kevin Uleck
- Horn: Deb Kline
- Reed 1: Mitch Bassman
- Reed 2: Jane Hughes
- Trombone: Steve Ward
- Trumpet: Dave Shuma
- Piano: Elisa Rosman
- Producer: Linda Stone
- Director: Bill Schreiner
- Stage Manager: Don Petersen
- Music Director: Elisa Rosman
- Assistant Music Director: Blakeman Brophy
- Choreographer: Catherine Oh
- Assistant Stage Manager: Terry Mittelman, Annie O’Neill
- Running Crew: Andrew Rampy, Shayne Gardner, Terry Yates
- Technical Director: Jerry Bonnes
- Stage Combat Choreographer: Kayce Allison
- Set Design: James Villarrubia
- Set Construction: James Villarrubia, Bob Zeigler, Bill Glikbarg
- Master Carpenter: Bob Zeigler
- Assisted by: Shayne Gardner, Jason Weyant, George Farnsworth, Fred Mittleman, Dick LaPorte
- Set Painting Design: James Villarrubia, Kate Roehr
- Set Dressing/Decoration: Linda Stone, Lynne Lawhead
- Properties Design: Lynne Lawhead & Linda Stone
- Assisted by: Columba Hoban & Terry Yates
- Light Design: Chris Hardy
- Light Operator: Richard Chancellor, Max Lindsey
- Co-Sound Design: Anna Hawkins & Bob Zeigler
- Sound Operator: Zack Sanders
- Special Effects Design: Chris Hardy, James Villarrubia
- Costume Design: Claire Yenson & Charlotte Marson
- Assisted by: Judy Whelian
- Dresser: Daryl Miles
- Makeup and Hair Design: Amy Poe
- Publicity: Brent & Linda Stone
- Playbill: George Farnsworth, Linda Stone
- House Manager: Columba Hoban
- Production Assistant: Dana Schreiner
Disclaimer: McLean Community Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. Also, MCP purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio web site.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/5328.
Mari Davis is a student of Speech and Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She has been involved in the performing arts since the age of five when she debuted as the Little Red Hen on an elementary school stage. Her career includes both national and international ensemble performances with semi-professional choirs, various roles in community and college musicals (both onstage and off), as well as co-directing drama camp for Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.