Casually drop a mention of Louis May Alcott’s novel “Little Women” into a conversation and watch dreamy smiles begin to glow with nostalgia.
Many a grown woman spent youthful days reading and re-reading the adventures of Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March. The beloved classic has enthralled readers for 150 years. So far, “Little Women” has been translated into more than 50 languages, has numerous adaptations for film and television, and gone on to spawn an opera, musical and stage play.
Now Community Players brings the March sisters and their tale of love, family and resilience to their stage in Bloomington. The show opens with a preview on Jan. 10 and continues through Jan. 20.
Director Marcia Weiss readily admits to being a fan of the classic novel as a child, identifying with protagonist Jo, the creative and determined proto-feminist of the bunch.
“I love directing classics,” Weiss admitted with a smile. “You know, something that has touched you for a long time. Any book that has lived with you for such a long time and has such an impact on American culture, it’s an honor to have a crack at it.”
The long-lasting appeal of “Little Women” lies in its universality, said Weiss.
“It’s family, it’s devotion. Alcott wrote it in 1868, and she herself served as a nurse during the Civil War. It’s just so compelling that that time is just so conflicted, and it gave birth to a story of how a family is struggling during a difficult time and how they bond and support each other.”
The stage adaptation stays very close to the source material.
“It’s by Marisha Chamberlain, and comes out of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. It’s very compressed, “Weiss explained. “The book was actually written in two parts. Alcott wrote the first part and it was extremely successful, and then she wrote the second part, which followed the girls into adulthood. This play really deals with the girls when they are young. What this adaptation really focuses on is the sense of Jo’s feelings of loss as her family changes. And we all know that when you do have a family unit and you grow up and you leave home, what you had as a child is never the same. It’s a hard thing to leave, and yet it’s inevitable.”
Weiss finds working with the young cast to be very rewarding and inspiring.
“It’s so exciting. Two of the sisters are about 25, 26 years old, and two of the sisters are 16 and 17, and to see them discover who these young women are is just such a blast. The chemistry between these four women is extraordinary.”
The cast includes Breeann Dawson as Jo, Kayla Jo Pullium as Meg, Abby Naden as Amy and Lianna Benjamin as Beth. “Little Women” opens at Community Players in Bloomington with a preview Jan. 10. The show continues through Jan. 20.
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