Archikulture Digest

Little Women

Little Women

By Adapted from Louisa May Alcott by Peter Clapham

Directed by Wade Hair

Starring Allie Novell, Ashlee Degelleke, and Joshua Huff

Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL</strong>

I don’t think I’ve hears as many consecutive grammatically correct sentences in one place and one time as this. Louisa May Alcott wrote one of the great American novels back in 1868 and to this day it’s a favorite of children everywhere. It follows the March family with their father (Anthony Marando) away at war, their imperious aunt (Eileen Antonescu) wielding inheritance over their heads and their mother Maree (Dina Ajar) remaining impossibly upbeat throughout endless poverty and disease. The girls all have their distinct personality: Josephine (Novell) is the Tom Boy with ambiguous overtones while Meg (Degelleke) the romantic who snares the boy next door (Huff). Younger Amy (Mackendrick Zavitz) is fastidious and a junior grammar Nazi while here Sister Beth (Abigail Marotta) is a gifted pianist. Wars are fought, telegrams are sent and meals are cooked; and in the end everyone turns out better than they feared.

The stiffly formal dialog forces the questions: do children EVER get subjunctive phrases correct? When they are alone? Off stage? I get the trope of stiff speech to indicate period, but sometimes you just want to edit these kid’s lines for brevity. Novelist Jo feels a bit off in the first act, but that turns out to be a costuming thing needed to propel act two. Meg is the one person here you would really spend time with; beside her graceful air, she’s the balanced one who forms a calm center I this frazzled house hold. Antonescu’s miserly and controlling aunt was brutal on stage but she apologized to me in the lobby. Both young men (Huff and his tutor played by Ryan Roberson) felt more reserved than boys on the make should be; they were over shadowed by the larger than life Mr. Laurence (John Moughan). He was the exciting and fun person here; his role is a bit of a blow hard but his heart was in the right place and like mother Marmee he was all in favor of young love. While estrogen levels were high and some of the arguments were quite screechy, this is still a nifty view of Civil War era American life and mores. The set was gorgeously done, if a bit anachronistic, and there’s just enough of a holiday undertone her to count as a Christmas play without the glurge. And in this special season we should all recall that neither scarlet fever nor typhus are holiday heart warmers.

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