For Waco Civic Theater executive director Eric Shephard, adding “Little Women the Musical” to the theatre’s summer lineup was a pretty obvious lineup choice.
Louisa May Alcott’s famous and beloved novel as source material? Check. Positive message of empowerment of women and family love? Check. Music? Check. Lots of roles for actresses? Check.
Shephard recalls hearing about the Broadway musical in 2005 while in the theater department at Baylor University from a student who attended an oral workshop on the play. While the workshop’s Broadway production did not attract the audiences its producers had expected, the years that followed showed that it struck a chord with audiences across the country when it was released. has been featured on tour and in regional productions.
“Everyday people really loved the stage production,” Shephard said.
The musical compresses the familiar story of the women of the March family – sisters Jo (Tori Christensen), Meg (Krystal Marshall), Amy (Kaleigh Huser) and Beth (Ally Varitek) as well as their mother Marmee (Kelly McGregor) and Aunt March (Kami Ellis -Yasko) – as they maintain their Massachusetts home during the Civil War while their father is away as a Union Army chaplain.
Girls have distinct personalities and their lives diverge as they grow up and find their own way in the world. Spirited Jo wants to be a writer. Older Meg is happy as a mother with children. Self-centered Amy longs for the social world while the youngest Beth sees her future constrained by illness. There is love and connection in women’s lives, with neighbor friend Laurie Laurence, German teacher Friedrich Bhaer (Jeremy Stallings) and calm but hardworking tutor John Brooke (Trey Shonkwiler).