The stage is dimmed as the audience shuffles slightly in their seats, shushing each other eagerly as they wait- eyes focused on the Lyceum stage before them. The melodic soundtrack playing softly in the background begins to fade slowly as the lights rise, catching the subtle glow of the fire that crackles in the fireplace at the back of the stage. As the lights brighten, they reveal the four March sisters- Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, frozen like Victorian vignettes. The audience is hushed, the music fades, and the still characters spring to life as Vanguard’s holiday adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” begins.
Adapted by Marian De Forest and directed by Kevin Slay, this Vanguard production follows the lives of the four March sisters and focuses on the importance of family. “If you are dismal, there is no fair-weather” Marmie (played by senior Chelsea Streano) states during the play, solidifying the persistent theme that proper perspective mixed with a strong dose of family love can conquer even the darkest winter seasons.
The acting here is well done and all eleven performers do an excellent job portraying their individual characters in a relatable and believable fashion. Senior Sheila Jenkins plays a very spirited Jo March and does a terrific job portraying Jo’s transformation from feisty tom-boy to mature and wise young woman. Senior Caitlin Theobald captures the sweet nature of oldest sister Meg March, while junior Aly Thompson and freshman Michaela Mershon are excellent portraying the gentle Beth and the adorable yet somewhat snobbish Amy, respectively.
These four main women are supported by loveable characters including the wise Marmie, fun-loving Laurie- portrayed by sophomore Ian Jenkins, and a quick-witted and sophisticated Aunt March (Vanguard alumna Katelyn Spurgin); who is a likeable foil in many of the girls’ adventures.
Rounding up this ensemble is sophomore Vincent Catalina as charming John Brooke, Luke Rhoades as the learned Mr. March, junior Dekontee Tucrkile as the ever-diligent maid Hannah, and senior Nick Lazaris as the thick-accented Professor Bhaer- who brings a comedic tone to this touching drama.
Everything about this production is artistically done- from the excellent makeup that turns college students into aging parents or fading invalids, to the beautiful set that envelops the Lyceum stage. A visual pleasure, the entire cast does an excellent job making the best use of the stage space while giving the audience a glimpse into the life of a close-knit family struggling through the Civil War.
“Little Women” presents a fresh and wholesome look into the struggles and triumphs that families face together. Although set during the Civil War Era, this play presents characters and themes that any generation can relate to and will encourage the audience to- as Marmie states- “think over your blessings and be thankful.”
With a balanced mix of comedy, romance, and drama, “Little Women” is a fitting way to enter into another holiday season. This performance will be held every weekend through December 9th in the Lyceum Theater starting November 30th.