It’s a pleasing story of four young, spirited women transitioning from childhood to adulthood in 19th century America.
And the cast and crew of Bard to Broadway’s Little Women captured it admirably.
The story was written by American author Louisa May Alcott and it is loosely based around her childhood experiences growing up with her three sisters.
At the Village Theatre, the audience gets transported back to the time of the American Civil War, when everything at home had to be “just so,” from the clothing, to the speech, to the discourse with neighbours. The girls are well-behaved and proper, as they are meant to be, but they also give us a glimpse of how families would have departed from that perfect image when inside the home. Their father is away serving in the civil war, making it a household full of ladies.
Jo March (who is the character most closely associated with Alcott) stretches the conventional etiquette boundaries the most with her free-spirit, her disdain for fancy clothes and her tom-boyish qualities. Emily Blake does a superb job capturing Jo’s fervour, and portrays both comical and emotional situations with skill.
The eldest sister Meg March is kind and sympathetic, often breaking up quarrels, and actor Jody Tkach carries the role adeptly. We get to follow her character’s first taste of love and she and cast member Gary Alfred, who plays John Brooke, put on a convincing show.
The actors playing the two youngest sisters are both very good, Elly Tomasson playing Beth March and Ella Roger playing Amy March. Beth is shy and has a great love for music and the youngest, Amy, is a budding artist, intent on being a refined and proper lady. The actors playing the sisters have great interaction and really bring the audience into their world, garnering both laughter and tears.
The mother, Marmee March is given great warmth by actor Judy Christopherson, who carries the role with grace. Justus Limpright is a great fit for the character Laurie Laurence, with his genuine enthusiasm and compassion, who becomes good friends with the sisters. Ruth Morrison does a fabulous job capturing the role of the cantankerous Aunt March, quite the contrast to the rest of the optimistic March family.
Hannah Mullet makes an authentic maid and cook, tending to the household chores even though the family is dead-broke and could surely do the job themselves. Shawn Lestage nails his role as Mr.Laurence, the kind and gentle neighbour, and Keith Roger injects joy with his character Mr. March.
Although the family faces their share of hardships during the show, for me it conjured up warm thoughts of family, and how strong and powerful those bonds can be. It was a very different time and place, but I admire how close families were back then, and how they seemed to really stick together. And I admire director Eileen Butts, and her cast and crew, for enthusiastically bringing this historical and classic tale to Qualicum Beach for us all to enjoy.
Little Women plays at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach until August 9. For tickets and more info, call 250-752-4470 or visit www.b2btheatre.com.