Martensville High School’s (MHS) production of ‘Little Women’ is a delicious, sepia-toned slice of 19th-Century American apple pie.
The play is a based on Louisa May Alcott’s semi-autobiographical novel of four sisters growing up in genteel poverty in Concord, Massachusetts in the 1860s. The setting may be dated, but the heartfelt portrait of family life that comes to life on the stage still resonates deeply with audiences of all ages.
The six performances slated for January 31 and February 1 and 2 have already sold out, and based on a sneak-peek at yesterday’s dress rehearsal, theatre-goers are in for a real treat.
The set, costumes, lighting and music all combine to create an atmosphere that allows the actors to bring their characters to life.
Grace Flegel brings a solid performance to her role as Josephine March, the headstrong lead character who chooses to defy convention and carve out a future for herself as a writer.
A big part of any performance is the chemistry between actors. In a play that revolves around the relationship of close siblings, Jo’s sisters each have characteristics that the actors give full voice to.
Katherine Daku portrays Meg March, Jo’s older sister who chooses a more traditional domestic role as a wife and mother. Avery Smith is Beth March, the shy, self-sacrificing one who never quite recovers from an illness. Greta Strueby is Amy March, the youngest sister who loves adventure, art and high society.
The four sisters share a strong bond that grows, even as it changes, during the ten year time-frame of the play’s story-line.
Also key to the story is Marmee, the girls’ mother, played with a confidence and poise beyond her years by Tori Fehr. She’s the glue that holds the family together in the absence of the kind but generous-to-a-fault father (Lucas Silbernagel), who’s off getting himself wounded in the Civil War.
Kierra Marshall is Hannah, the family’s ever-present servant, who is treated like one of the family, except that she’s the only one who does all the work.
Since the book is a romance aimed squarely at young women, there are a couple idealized roles that offer up two Prince Charmings.
The lead male character of Theodore Lawrence, who falls madly in love with Jo, only to be crushed by her rejection, is played with a dashing, yet self-effacing, flair by Elijah Kallstrom. Dylan Berk portrays John Brooke, the subdued and incredibly polite suitor who eventually wins Meg’s hand.
A spicy performance by Emma Ens as the sisters’ elderly and cantankerous Great-Aunt March adds some much-welcome comic relief in the melodrama.
To add a dash of realism, there’s also a quartet of well-meaning but gossipy neighbours (Chanelle Poulin, Janaya Mackenzie, Macy Sackmann and Gracyn Dean), who stir up hurtful rumours about the March sisters.
Director Micah Robinson, who also teaches history at MHS, has a passion for classic literature and drama. The architect of a string of succesful MHS plays over the years, he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for bringing out the best in his students.
The set, designed and built by MHS students in the Theatre Arts 20/30 classes, is a realistic parlor of an 1860s house, complete with an upper loft, a set of french doors, and a centre piece polished-wood upright piano. The costumes, including some incredible 19th-Century style dresses, were all designed and sewn by Bev Zunti, Della Muench and MHS Home Ec students.
The crew behind the scenes provided all the professional touches that make a performance look realistic and flow flawlessly. Kudos to Hali Remlinger (hairstyling), Kianna Lang and Alyssa Cumming (makeup), Shaunna Robinson (lights), Micah Robinson (sound), Emily Mann and Ciarra Thiessen (stage managers).