(The Picket)- Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women has been a coming-of-age tale enjoyed and retold countless times, this latest musical retelling is a lively and emotional journey. The original Broadway production featuring the book by Allan Knee, music by Jason Howland and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein was given both a Tony nomination and multiple Drama Desk Award nominations. These are large shoes to step into for a college production and Dr. Robert Tudor director and his cast do it beautifully.
The set design by Chase Molden is artfully done, featuring a set of stacked books for the platformed stage, calling all of us back to Little Women as a novel. The set easily takes us from location to location with a combination of levels and use of a projection screen. The screen also doubles as a shadow box stage showing us the story and characters in Jo March’s mind as a writer. The effect is well done and gets us lost in the scenes of Jo’s operatic tragedy.
The music conducted by Dr. Tudor and under the direction of Barbara Irvine is breathtaking, from the energetic overture, all the way to the final notes played as the show concludes the pit orchestra keeps us engrossed as the actors give us emotional and well-handled vocals. The strongest performances by far are the March sisters themselves and Marmee.
Stephanie Proctor, a junior music education major, gives us a relatable and strong mother in Marmee. Her singing puts emotion into every phrase, giving us a tear jerking and most wonderful performance in her song “Days of Plenty”.
Junior Mary Sullivan’s Amy is the angsty youngest sister in full, hard to please but still eagerly swept up in older sister Jo’s world.
Haily Bricker as Junior, gives us a Meg we can see as romantic and sweet, with just the right strength of character.
Grace Guiney, a junior and music education major, gives us a sweet Beth that we are beyond sad to say goodbye to. Her duet with Jo on the beach for “Some Things are Meant to Be” is a moment that shows love between sisters and makes us reach for our tissue boxes.
The strongest performer and lead for the production Alexandra Rosle, a fourth-year vocal performance major, give us a Jo March that we all cheer for. Rosle’s beautiful voice and strong stage presence make her an amazing fit for Jo as we watch her journey through the positions of concerned older sister to tower of independent strength. From the upbeat group singing of “Our Finest Dreams” to the strength and emotion of “The Fire within Me” Rosle’s voice delivers.
The production is an example of what Shepherd’s music department can do, taking on a challenging show and bringing it full force.
Jessica Sharpless is a reporter for the Picket and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org