“Little Women” was the category that my husband insisted upon before accepting any blind dates. I guess being vertically challenged has its benefits too. Louisa M. Alcott wrote a novel back in 1868 about four sisters during the Civil War that was part of my pre-teen bibliography. The heroine is spunky Jo March. Watching the Sheridan Theatre performance, I kept thinking of the famous Mary Tyler Moore show episode where Editor Lou Grant states “You’ve got spunk – I HATE spunk”!
The siblings and their mother are not penniless but certainly financially struggling. The husband is absent due to illness and Union army deployment. The girls range in age from sixteen to twelve, and the pecking order is Meg; Jo; Beth & Amy. Their emotional and almanac maturing plus their diverse social directions are the gist of the story…as seen through Jo’s journalistic interest and perspective. Directed by Thomas Morgan Jones, the play’s progress occasionally drags and the almost constant across-stage scurrying is exhausting – and not just for the performers! The dialogue is virtually sung rather than spoken and unfortunately, none of the melodies are at all memorable. So, it’s the acting that “Little Women” is really about.
The pivotal role of Josephine (Jo, daughter No. 2) is portrayed by Emily Lukasik and she is remarkable. Not a single error or miscue even though she’s on-stage continually; this young lady has a mobile countenance and a 1,000-watt smile that reflects spectra of emotions. Small surprise that she’s already contracted to perform for Mirvish’s upcoming “ONCE”. Meg is Nevada Banks and she epitomizes the first-born tendency of superiority and deputized parental imperative. The doomed sister Beth is portrayed by Léa Beauvais and fortunately, never telegraphs her future. Rather she’s bold, daring and ready for all of a teenager’s encounters. Rachel Delduca is the impish Amy whose behavior covers the full spectrum. She’s trouble; she’s ambitious, adventurous and certainly a handful. Being an adorable blonde, she’s the ‘bring-home’ member of the clan.
Strong support, both vocally and passionately is contributed by Teale Poirier as the mater familias. She contributes a vibrant credibility to a role that requires quiet fortitude. The neighbor cum boyfriend to both Jo & Amy is the handsome Brydon Rutherford who epitomizes the leading man idiom. He has such an impressive tenor voice that this writer expected to see a table of his CD’s being offered in the lobby.
“The minor support roles of Jo’s N.Y. mentor & professor (Ryan Burda); Meg’s suitor- then husband Brooke (Shane Gramlich); as well as Angela Welcher playing the wealthy but domineering aunt and Greg Borris as Rutherford’s grandfather & patron all provide full measure and role interpretation. The play is longish but definitely a platform for talented thespian display. LITTLE WOMEN (and their men) will be at Sheridan’s Studio Theatre until Saturday.