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Little Women
a Musical
by Alan Knee, book; Mindy Dickstein, lyrics; Jason Howland, music

COMPANY : Fabrefaction Theater Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Fabrefaction Theater [WEBSITE]
ID# 4392

SHOWING : November 29, 2012 - December 23, 2012



This musical based on Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel of the same title is a well loved story and a celebration of women breaking the mold and achieving success both in work and life. The show explores themes of family, ambition, the struggle of poverty, and well before its time this tale fights for women’s rights to work as well as publish books in their own name. This poignant and timeless classic is the perfect Christmas show for the entire family.

Director Christina Hoff
Jo March Mary Raines Battle
Mr. John Brooke Daniel Burns
Amy March Emily Diamond
Aunt March/Mrs. Kirk Kerrie Hansen Doty
Laurie Laurence Dan Ford
Professor Bhaer Daniel Hilton
Meg March Paige Mattox
Beth March Lyndsay Ricketson
Marmee March Mary Welch Rogers
Mr. Laurence Robert Wayne
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Louisa May Alcott Rocks!
by playgoer
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Fabrefaction Theatre Company's "Little Women" brings Louisa May Alcott's story to vibrant life. Appropriately for the season, after a short intro, it starts at Christmastime, with Jo cutting down a neighbor's prize fir tree to brighten her family's Civil War-era holiday. The segment doesn't last too long, but it's enough to capture the holiday spirit. By that time, we have come to know the force of nature that is Jo March and to become acquainted with all the main characters of the story.

Costume design by Christina Hoff contains some very nice mid-19th century dresses, and the ladies seem to have mastered the art of keeping the hoops of their skirts in place when they sit. Jeffery Martin's scenic design makes good use of the width and height of the stage, placing a door unit far right and using platforms to vary the acting space and to suggest an attic. Placement of books on a ledge above the floor is a bit problematic, though. It looks more like a college student's idea of decorating than anything remotely appropriate to the period. I would have much preferred painted bookshelves with two levels of books in place of the crudely painted gray/white "stone" that backed the books.

Lighting, by Liz Waldman, is fine, although unnecessarily dramatic at some points. Daniel Pope's sound design, however, is a detriment to the show. Some electronic sound balance is probably required, given the remote location of the strings/flute/piano orchestra, but reverb effects in the dramatic operetta scenes muddy the sound, and the muddiness is even worse when any of the men use the power of their voices. Amplification should not punish actors for using appropriate stage projection, and here it does.

The March girls are all delights in this production. Mary Raines Battle gives Jo incredible energy and drive. Lyndsay Ricketson gives Beth a quiet sweetness. Paige Mattox gives Meg the air of a girl turning into a woman and not quite knowing what to make of the change. Emily Diamond's Amy is a near-brat who manages to charm by wearing her emotions slyly on her sleeve. The performances of Ms. Diamond and Ms. Battle are scaled more for the Fox than for the size of Fabrefaction's stage, but I found the outsize quality very engaging. The energy of the performances is delightful.

The men in the production all fare well (except when amplification muddies their voices). Daniel Burns is a quiet, forceful Mr. John Brooke. Dan Ford is an engagingly open Laurie Laurence. Robert Wayne is a blustery Mr. Laurence, and Daniel Hilton makes for a wonderful Professor Bhaer, so circumspect in his behavior that it comes to him as an amazement when he admits his love for Jo.

The other two members of the cast aren't as successful in their roles. Mary Welch Rogers looks very motherly as Marmee March, but the role is written to include power ballads that don't really suit the physical softness of a matronly woman. She sings them very well, but they don't ring quite true (which I believe is a deficiency in terms of the writing). Double-cast Kerrie Hansen Doty doesn't seem entirely comfortable in either of her roles, which is a real shame. The characters she plays need to match the energy and punch of the March girls, and she just doesn't deliver.

Director Christina Hoff, music director Nick Silvestri, and choreographer Allison Michalke have worked together to create an extremely entertaining production of "Little Women." There's some dragginess in the second act when things take a mournful turn, but that is entirely due to the writing of the show. "Little Woman" is not a masterpiece of Broadway writing, but it moves quickly in Fabrefaction's production and leaves a wonderfully uplifting feeling. It's worth seeing. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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