Back to Stage

Theater Review: "Little Women"

The saga of four sisters staged at Lakewood Playhouse

Marissa Tate (Beth), left, and Cassie Jo Fastabend (Jo) help bring to life Louisa May Alcott's beloved Civil War-era children's book about the four March sisters at the Lakewood Playhouse. Photo credit: Kate Paterno-Lick

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

With 150 years of popularity, it's no wonder that Louisa May Alcott's Little Women was the number one patron pick for plays to be performed during the 2014/2015 season at Lakewood Playhouse. The script highlights most of the major plot points of the novel and takes the audience on a journey through the experiences of the four March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Directed by Suzy Wilhoft, the actors do a remarkable job manipulating the emotions of the audience. The audience roared, chuckled, giggled and smirked at the antics and snarkiness of Jo and Laurie, the pretentious airs of Amy and Hannah's long suffering exasperation. The actors were equally good at bringing the audience to tears at the loss of Beth; it is not often that actors use silence so skillfully the audience not only feels the actors' full weight of sorrow but also experiences it themselves. The few plot points that are omitted diminish the full depth of the characters but since the majority of audience members have either read the book or seen one of the movies, it doesn't totally detract from the performance.

Cassie Jo Fastabend is absolutely brilliant as the headstrong Josephine "Jo" March. She romps about the stage and delivers her lines in such a natural manner that it often seems she is coming up with the words on the spot instead of being rehearsed. Coleman Hagerman as Theodore "Laurie/Teddy" Lawrence matches Fastabend scene for scene and the two are delightful to watch. The two so completely embody their characters, during the scene where Laurie finally professes his love to an unyielding Jo, it seems as if the audience is witnessing fresh heartbreak. The one drawback during that scene is the challenge of a theater in the round type of stage. While Wilhoft ensures the actors play to all sides, inevitably one or two sides are looking at the back of an actor at any given moment. The other actors playing the March family and friends, all have strengths. Unfortunately, the two youngest, Marissa Tate (Beth) and Ashley Mowreader (Amy), are overshadowed by the more seasoned actors and occasionally come across a little stiff. Ashley Mowreader does have a particularly hilarious scene where she is supposed to be acting and is "stiff as a poker." The way she jerks about stage had the audience laughing. Mowreader's most natural moment came at the end as the grown up Amy, when she receives a sweet proposal.

The set utilized the space brilliantly with most of the setting being the March home. Toward the end, the set is changed to Aunt March's home, Plumfield. There has never been a more beautiful set change. It is somber and funereal, which is no accident as Plumfield was given to Jo after the passing of Aunt March (and, in this script, on the heels of Beth's passing).

Kudos to Lakewood Playhouse for taking such great care to honor the script and people's love of the story.

LITTLE WOMEN, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Nov. 30, Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd. SW, Lakewood, $18-$24, 253-588.0042

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search