Sweetly charming, at times heartbreaking, and full of unexpected humor, this recent Broadway musical adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic is the perfect theatrical event to warm your family members' hearts this winter. The familiar story of the four March sisters growing up in Concord during the Civil War contains some lovely music and includes many recognizable episodes from the original novel, taking us through the years up until Jo's engagement. Besides the four sisters, we also enjoy loving, selfless Marmee, stern Aunt March and Mr. Lawrence, fun-loving Laurie, handsome Professor Bhaer and shy Mr. Brooks.
As befitting any dramatic production of this novel, its strength must be determined by power of the ensemble; rest assured that this production's company is talented and solid. From the moment she first bursts onto the stage like fireworks, Heidi Kettenring is the embodiment of Jo March, the musical's central character and narrator. Full of spunk and determination, Ms. Kettenring's plucky heroine grabs hold and engagingly leads us through the story.
Individually and collectively this cast contains some fantastic voices. Stand out numbers include "Astonishing," Jo's proclamation of her determination to become a great writer, as well as her songs "The Fire Within Me" and the show's final number, "Volcano." Jo's lovely songs with her three siblings and her best friend Laurie, and especially one very touching duet sung with Beth, the exquisite Dara Cameron, are wonderful. Marmee's heartfelt "Here Alone" and "Days of Plenty" are both sung and acted with genuine sensitivity by local favorite actress Paula Scrofano, and Michael Gerhart's Professor Bhaer meditates musically with clarity and honesty in "How I Am" and "Small Umbrellas in the Rain."
Joe Leonardo has staged this production with unadorned simplicity and intimacy, wisely allowing the characters to dominate. The opening of the second act, the show's one production number, in which Jo relates the plot of her latest "blood and guts" novel, is orchestrated perfectly for Marriott's arena stage. Nancy Missimi's beautiful earth tone antebellum costumes further help delineate and support the characters, and Doug Peck and Patti Garwood's musical work is excellent. This enchanting musical version of Miss Alcott's story ought to inspire many new young readers to the original work