Theater Info for the Washington DC region

The Madeira School Little Women

By • Feb 21st, 2010 • Category: Cappies

The Madeira School recently performed Little Women, a classic musical with lots of heart. A semi-autobiographical account of its author’s life, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women is the beloved story of four sisters — Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy — growing up in Civil War America. Since its publication in 1869, Little Women has spawned dozens of stage and film adaptations, including a celebrated 1994 film and a 2005 Broadway musical (written by Allen Knee, Jason Howland, and Mindi Dickstein). The musical adaptation focuses primarily on one little woman, Jo March (Olivia Haller). Narrating much of her story through flashback vignettes, Jo reminisces about her adolescent life with her mother and three sisters. As the sisters grow up, Jo must accept that they cannot remain together forever and must start her own life.

Haller carried the show as Jo March, bringing energy and Jo’s trademark spunk. She created a unique character and related well to the audience. Haller was joined by Kristen Bishof (Meg), Emma Estes (Beth), and Taylor Eggleston (Amy). The four girls interacted well onstage, cultivating believable relationships whether reading a letter from their father or acting out silly melodramas in the attic. Haller and Estes in particular developed an authentic sisterly relationship, culminating in their poignant duet, “Some Things Are Meant to Be.”

Eggleston gave an impressive performance as Amy, the youngest March sister. Initially portraying Amy as a silly and rather superficial young girl, Eggleston paraded around stage wearing pigtails and a clothespin on her nose. Later in the show, however, she revealed a softened, more mature character that had clearly aged several years throughout the performance.

As Marmee, Ana Olson crafted a believable maternal relationship with each of the four girls. Although some performances felt melodramatic at times, Olson’s was consistently genuine and realistic. After exhibiting her impressive range in “Here Alone,” Olson’s heartfelt rendition of “Days of Plenty” left the audience close to tears.

The production, however touching, was not without laughs. Particularly amusing was Olivia May’s performance as Aunt March, the persnickety matriarch of the March family. Madeira’s all-female cast faced several challenges, not least of which was surely the lack of male actors. But the actresses persevered, donning wigs and beards to portray all manner of characters. Some had difficulty with characterization, but Margaret Berkowitz rose to the challenge as Laurie, her high energy and powerful voice creating a convincing character.

The stage crew deftly transitioned from the family parlor to a spacious ballroom, moving furniture and set panels quickly and quietly.

Although some actors had trouble fully connecting with their characters, The Madeira School’s Little Women was truly delightful!

by Elisabeth Bloxam of Westfield High School

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