Belmont’s production of “Little Women” is a celebration of a classic but makes some inevitable mistakes.
The story follows the March sisters and has captivated audiences for many years. Whether it’s in a novel, a play, a musical or a movie, the Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy March are a strong group of women who continue to remain relevant.
The mother of the girls, whom they call Marmee, says “one soul is no better than another, they just need a different space to grow”. This line sums up Belmont’s interpretation of the series, and while their production in no way deviates from the original plot, director Dr Jane Duncan has added a few nuances specific to the cast and the Belmont team.
I had high hopes for this production, and although many of them were met, I left feeling unsatisfied.
From start to finish, the show went wonderfully with very few bumps, but there were plenty of times I was taken out of the story and brought back to my place at the Troutt Theater.
While the decor is lovely, it was not used to its full potential as the only pieces of the set that didn’t stagnate were the furniture and even these stayed in one place for most of the show.
It was difficult to discern which parts of the show were inside versus outside and the only clue was an actor putting on a coat or hat.
While this little signal was helpful, it was also distracting. March women are supposed to be on the brink of poverty, so how could anyone afford a bright, decadent pink yarn for a knitted beanie? The main character Jo March, played by Robin Carsner, wore a beanie with a pom pom, a style that only became popular in the 1930s.
Missteps like these take viewers out of the performance, away from the world that is portrayed on stage, and come back to their own reality.
And while the set and costumes mimicked the original production, Carsner’s Jo played a different role than you might expect. Often regarded as the heroine of the tale “Little Women”, this production portrays Jo more as the antagonist of the story. Rather than appearing to be ambitious and driven, Jo becomes quite selfish and incredibly insecure.
While other productions portray Jo as a woman trying to shatter the societal norms of her day, Belmont’s production transformed the character from endearing and inspiring to self-centered and abrasive.
Making Jo’s character more selfish has allowed audiences to better connect with a new sister: Beth March.
Although not the main character, McEwen Baker’s portrayal of March’s younger sister stole the show. Every time Beth spoke it was genuine and genuine, infusing an air of calm into her sisters’ calamity. It was in the scenes with a bedridden Beth that the story really came true.
You could feel the sisters’ desperation to keep Beth safe and healthy.
You might see the family coming together to support one of their own.
You could feel the honesty of the story and how each sister is both independent and dependent on each other.
While this production was a different take on the classic March sisters story, the ending still clearly revealed their deep love for each other, establishing that this family meant more to them than anything else.
It was the love between the sisters that lingered after the performance, leading the audience to a standing ovation.
“Little Women” runs through October 9 at the Troutt Theater.
PHOTO: Players rehearse for “Little Women,” which kicked off Friday. Courtesy of Anna Johnson.
This review was written by Allynne Miller.
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