At one time Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” was required reading for high school students. Now the Civil War era adventures of the four March sisters comes to life on the Round Barn stage at Amish Acres, Nappanee.
Like the book, the musical centers on the life of Josephine (Jo) Marsh (Nicole Tompkins), the second daughter. She is brash and willful with a hot temper. She tries her best to become the proper young lady her Aunt March (Carissa McCurdy) wants her to be. Her reward: A trip to Europe. Alas, her aunt becomes very upset when she cuts her hair to make money for her Marmee (Laura Ernst) to go to Washington to attend to her ill husband and refuses to take Jo to Europe.
Jo loves literature and is a writer. Her works are rejected but she keeps at it until at last she receives an acceptance. She rejects the marriage proposal of her friend Laurie Lawrence (Justin Williams) but later falls in love with German Professor Bhaer (Joe Ford), whom she meets while in New York trying to sell her novels.
Tompkin shows exceptional talent as she faces the many personalties of Jo’s character. It’s interesting to watch her facial expressions change as she goes from one feeling to another. Jo has both a hard side and a soft side and Tompkin bring these to life. McCurdy, Ernst, Williams and Ford all add their own special talents to this winning production.
Older sister, Margaret (Meg) March (Samantha Disney) is shy and more domesticated than her sister, Jo. When they received invitations to a dance, she is reluctant. “Delighted,” is a song the ladies sing that tells of the transformation of Meg from being very shy to being delighted to go to the dance where she meets John Brooke (Ryan A. Schisler), whom she later marries. Disney and Schisler make a perfect couple. Both are very talented.
The next sister if Elizabeth (Beth) March (Marian van Noppen). She, sweet, quiet and musical. She’s the peacemaker in the family. She is Jo’s favorite sister. When Beth develops scarlet fever Jo return home to take care of her. Eventually, Beth dies. van Noppen is very good as the weaker, younger sister.
Amy Curtis March (Katie Kuchner) is the youngest of the four sisters. She is an artist and is a proper young lady. Her Aunt Marsh picks her for the trip to Europe. There she meets and falls in love with Laurie. They marry. Kuchner is delightful as the baby of the family, a little self-centered and a little spoiled. She brings these traits to life.
Adding to the production is Mr. Laurence (Shelby Tyler Nichols), who is the rich, grouchy neighbor. He becomes very upset when Jo decides the family needs a Christmas tree and cuts down one of his. He make her work for him in order to pay for the tree and her Marmee makes her give the tree to another family. Laurence’s friendly side shows when he befriends Beth and eventually gives her his piano. Nickles gives his all and easily shows both sides of Mr. Laurence.
Even if you have read the book you won’t want to miss this musical. For information call the box office at 800-800-4942 or online at www.amishacres.com.