A Story About Love, Family and Tradition
By Joe Basque, Contributor
Louisa May Alcott did not think much of her publisher’s suggestion that she write a story about girls. “I don’t enjoy this sort of thing,” she wrote in her journal. “Never liked girls or knew many, except my sisters; but our queer plays and experiences may prove interesting, though I doubt it.” Despite her misgivings, she eventually concluded that the book turned out “better than I expected.”
In the one hundred-fifty years since publication, “Little Women” has never been out of print. It has been translated into over fifty languages and inspired writers ranging from Gloria Steinem, Helen Keller, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Gertrude Stein, Danielle Steel, and J.K. Rowling. The story of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy has spawned movies, TV adaptations, a Broadway drama, an opera, and a Broadway musical.
The Chanticleer Theatre and Director Suzanne Withem tackles the latter this month with “Little Women-The Broadway Musical.”
Withem, an accomplished talent both on and back stage, stage managed the Omaha Community Playhouse production in 2015. With time, she found her passion for stage managing waning. “I enjoyed making sure actors could do their job to the best of their ability, but my hands were tied with the creative elements.” Her move to stage direction was immediately successful, with a TAG nomination for “Much Ado About Nothing” at Bellevue Little Theatre and a hit show with “Stupid F@#%ing Bird” at the Omaha Community Playhouse.
Withem leapt at the chance to direct “Little Women.” “My projects have been written by men. I felt like I wasn’t walking the walk and doing plays by and about women.” Women are clearly the stars of this story. The March sisters live in a matriarchy, with their itinerant father and love interests playing secondary roles. While the sisters are of another era, they each represent architypes of women who accomplish the most they could hope to in that time. As a result, the story has worn well over the generations, and remains a favorite today. “Little Women is, at its core, a story about love, family, and tradition,” explains Withem. “This story has withstood the test of time because it strikes the right balance between looking to the future and embracing the past.” Her goal is for the audience to “experience the same balance of ‘tradition, love, and heart’ while also being encouraged to think about an old story in a slightly new way.”
“And of course, the music is incredible, too!”
Anna Perilo, Alissa Hanish, Megan Kelly and Megan Lane will star as the four March sisters. Liz Stinman music directs, and Kelsey Schwenker choreographs the show. Ring in the New Year with the Broadway musical version of Alcott’s classic at the Chanticleer.
“Little Women-The Broadway Musical” by the Chanticleer Community Theater will run from January 18th through January 27th. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30, with Sunday matinees at 2 pm. There will be a TAG Nite Out on Thursday, January 17. Doors open thirty minutes before curtain. The Chanticleer Theater is located at 830 Franklin Avenue in Council Bluffs. Ticket prices are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors (60 and older) and $10 for students, and reservations are available calling (712) 323-9955 in advance of the show. You can also purchase tickets on line at http://www.chanticleertheater.com/box-office. Questions? E-mail the theater at firstname.lastname@example.org.