Little Women – the Musical. The Joy of Singing and Performing

Monday Magazine's Theatre Critic applauds Stelly's Musical Theatre's production of Little Women

Sheila Martindale

Does a story about an American family during the Civil War have relevance today in Canada?  If you pondered that question, the show presented by Stelly’s Musical Theatre at Stelley’s Secondary School (on until January 13 each night at 7 pm) would answer YES!  The classic Louisa May Alcott novel was made into a musical which brings the characters to life 150 years later. And the enthusiasm and talent of these young people adds the sparkle.

Olive Elzinger as Jo, the principal character of the play, projects the passion of a young girl determined to make it as a writer. Her emotional strength and love of life and family, carries this story through to its satisfying conclusion – a great performance!  The other March sisters are ably portrayed – Livi Van Bruggen is lovely as the gentle Beth; Kayla Manor climbs the social ladder with grace as Meg; and Niah Davis in the role of the emotional youngest sister, Amy, is absolutely scintillating!

Older characters are always a challenge for a high school troupe, but Morgan McLellan is suitably grouchy as the old neighbour, while Zosha Quiring undertakes the role of Marmee, as the family cornerstone, with quiet but determined strength. Sive Johnson is a convincingly formidable Aunt March.

As the eye is always drawn to the brightest jewel in the basket, so one is compelled to take notice of S. Love-Brennan as Laurie, whose moves and voice inflections are quite mesmerizing – a compelling case for casting a female into this male part!

Steven Noble as John Brooke, and Nolan Rainaldi as Professor Bhaer, are well cast in their semi-romantic roles, rounding out this group of main characters, each with his own brand of charm.

The ensemble of dancers delights the eye, and the myriad incidental characters complete the line-up of accomplished performers in this larger-than-life Broadway spectacle. Kudos to the choreographer, Alicia Bartlett; and of course to Michelle Cunningham, the overall director.

Mention must also be made of the musicians, perched rather precariously in the gallery above the stage, who probably work harder than everybody else to keep the show moving – congratulations to Norbert Ziegler for directing this musical marathon.

And of course, in any musical, there is singing, and in any school show there is a variety of  voices – the strong and the weaker, the confident and the nervous, those with perfect pitch and those wobbling on the edge of a key. Occasionally voices are somewhat overpowered by the orchestra; some ear-mics don’t quite come up to snuff at the crucial moment; but the whole does come together with a joy born of the love of singing and performing.  And that joy is infectious, and moves the audience to genuine applause.

A note about this show – it is part of the fund-raising effort to build a new theatre for the school – a brand new facility which can be used by the community as well.  During a brief tour of the current backstage space, I could see the need for such an improvement.  A great drama program certainly deserves an appropriate setting.  So, if you are keen to see young talent develop, do try to see Little Women – the Musical.  Tickets  are $10-$15 – a bargain for a full evening of excellent entertainment!  And if you direct a corporation or a local business, you might want to talk to Ron Broda about some sort of sponsorship for this challenging endeavour.   ronbroda@gmail.com

 

 

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