Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s semi-autobiographical tale has been brought to life in this charming musical adaptation. The show first opened on Broadway in 2005, starring Sutton Foster and has been revived by Bronagh Lagan’s adaptation at the Park Theatre in London.
The show stays somewhat faithful to the novel, following the lives of the four March sisters, Jo (Lydia White), Meg (Hana Ichijo), Beth (Anastasia Martin) and Amy (Mary Moore) who live in Massachusetts with their mother whilst their father is away as a chaplain during the Civil War. Alcott’s narrative, with all its nuances and details, is quite a difficult story to replicate especially in a musical structure, which emerges in this adaptation.
Designed by Nik Corrall, the set was stripped down and simple, yet worked well as the March family home. A large bookshelf dominated the stage with the famous attic room as the backdrop. There was a smokiness in the air, perhaps to reflect the old books, which, being in a smaller theatre at times felt a little much but overall contributed to the atmosphere.
There are a few moments in this adaptation that were harder to follow, especially for those who may not be familiar with the book. From the acceleration of relationships to fit within the musical time frame to the lack of characterisation of the sisters, there was less substance in a few areas where details would’ve helped move the story along better.
Where the musical triumphs, however, is with the extremely talented cast. Lydia White in particular, plays the fiercely ambitious and strong-willed Jo very well. White is vocally strong, featuring in nearly all of the musical scores, delivering the same energy, enthusiasm and passion from start to finish. Savannah Stevenson also shined as Marmee, the March family matriarch, her beautiful vocals and stellar acting was a joy to watch.
Another standout was Anastasia Martin’s portrayal of the sweet and ill-fated Beth. Her relationship with Jo, especially in their emotional duet “Some Things Are Meant To Be” was certainly the strongest sisterly bond shown on stage. Equally impressive was Sev Keoshgerian as Laurie and Bernadine Pritchett’s Aunt March, who both provided some much-needed comic relief. Keoshgerian played a more awkward and bright-eyed Laurie which was met with plenty of laughs. Pritchett was a villainous Aunt March, her stage presence every time she stepped into the spotlight was unmatched.
Although the musical did fall short in some areas, the whole cast was brilliant, a favourite moment was Jo re-enacting her “blood and guts” stories, with the whole cast playing her imagined characters with an overdramatic flourish of sound effects, music and lighting which was silly and fun.
The strong family bonds which is central to Alcott’s story are also portrayed extremely well, we see the sisters bicker, mostly Jo and Amy yet the cast do a brilliant job of showing the love between them and the voices of each sister blend beautifully together in group performances.
Little Women has some heart-warming and funny moments that are worth a viewing, the cast is stellar even if the show itself did not make as much of an impact representing Louisa May Alcott’s iconic story.
Little Women The Musical is currently showing at the Park Theatre until 19 December. Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/little-women-the-musical
Reviewer: Gemma Prince
Reviewed: 18th November 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★