Little Women
by Christian Youth Theater

Before the current Broadway premiere of the musical version of Little Women, there was Christian Youth Theater’s original musical written by Robb Beus and Jon Lorenz. Their engaging creation includes good musical numbers and a script that nicely captures the essence of Louisa May Alcott’s classic coming-of-age story of four nineteenth-century sisters as they experience the dreams, fighting, forgiving, romances, and tragedies of growing up.

Based on the author’s own life, the center of the story is Alcott’s alter ego Jo March. Courtney Evans remarkably portrays the various nuances of Jo’s tomboyish, teasing, loving, intelligent, vivacious personality as she dreams of making her life extraordinary (while making double-sure she never gets married). Alli Faucher is hilariously hammy, bratty, sometimes selfish but still lovable as Jo’s butter-loving little sister Amy, while in the second act Katelyn Bruggema and her sublime voice fill the role of the more mature Amy a few years down the road. Elizabeth Phalan delivers a strong performance as elder sister Meg who is uncomfortable as society tries to pressure her into being someone she isn’t and not marrying someone she loves, with Elizabeth earning extra kudos for keeping in character during an opening-night wardrobe malfunction. Cassie Bowerman is genuinely sweet and sensitive as the generous and kindly sister Beth – Jo’s favorite sibling. Other fine performances come from Donna Louden as the girls’ fair and wise Marmee, Charlotte Cantelon as the spoiled and obnoxious Hannah, Amanda Gamble as Jo’s cantankerous Aunt March, Tim Manns as the Professor who shares a great duet with Jo, and Jeff Mull as an editor eager for more carnage and mayhem in Jo’s early horror stories.

The musical score demonstrates an excellent mix led by the inspiring duet Imagine as Jo and her long-time friend “Laurie” (Jesse Abeel) dream of their big aspirations for life and how they plan to control their own destinies (playfully moving the other characters on stage like puppets as they exert their will over the world). The four sisters and Laurie deliver the most amusing scene of the show as they stage their play within a play as part of The Actor’s Society. The first act ends with all the main cast members combining for the big number Changes while Jo pleads for the impossible -- wanting things to stay the same. By far the most powerful moment comes as Jo laments the death of her beloved sister who sits unseen beside her.

Although there were some lighting issues still to be worked out as of the opening, overall the visual aspects of the production were of a grand scale with enormous and complicated sets designed to move quickly in and out and absolutely gorgeous costumes highlighted by Michele Ninness’s variety of beautiful Civil War-era dresses. Renee Rebold and Janie Underwood both choreographed and directed this elaborate undertaking with great success and an eye for the humor and the drama.

Performs through March 6, 2005.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Jo: Courtney Evans
Meg: Elizabeth Phalan
Beth: Cassie Bowerman
Marmee: Donna Louden
Young Amy: Alli Faucher
Older Amy: Katelyn Bruggema
Aunt March: Amanda Gamble
Sally Moffat: Charlotte Cantelon
Mrs. Moffat: Anne Slagill
Laurie: Jesse Abeel
John Brooke: Marshall Hattersley
Professor: Tim Manns
Editor: Jeff Mull
Father: Corey Springett
Hannah: Katheryn Martindale
Belle Bowers: Chelsea Lapp
Mrs. Bowers: Ashley Cole
Belinda Kirk: Rachael Davies
Frank: Alex d'Avignon
Chris: Patrick Ortiz
James: Anthony Slade

Amy's Gang:
Payton Boeh
Kara Bradel
Emma Flint
Melissa Fox
Alexa Wolfe

Party Maids:
Shannon Foley
Danielle Pupa
Jessica Kremensky
Chelsea Wyrick

New York Children:
Gina Snew
Miriam Phalan
Holly Barnhart
Heather Armstrong
Michaela Chavez
Mackenzie Manns
Ashley Carter
Cristian Serrano
Andy Walsh
Josiah Paraiso
Bobby Albright
Anna Strickland

Moffat Girls:
Meagan Flint
Mollie Esau
Shannon Pate
April Wilkholm
Chelsea Lapp
Charlotte Cantelon
Sydney Cantelon
Stephanie Barton

Moffat Boys:
Steve Quinn
John True
Alex d'Avignon
Patrick Ortiz
Anthony Slade
Jeff Mull
Corey Springett
Tim Manns

Moffat Women:
Rachael Davies
Alexis Johnson
Erin True
Lindsey Davies
Anne Slagill
Ashley Cole

City Folk:
Kaylyn Hopkins
Anika Kenion
Bethany Swanson
Alyssa Parades
Jacob Benavente
Joshua Davies
Hayley Ford
Jenna Bailey

Hummel Children:
Amanda Snew
Cara Filley
Sara Swanson
Anna Nelson

Directors/Choreographers: Renee Rebold and Janie Underwood
Musical Director: Jani d'Avignon
Costume Designer: Michele Ninness
Stage Manager: Brittany Preston


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