Our First Review for Little WomenMarch 14th, 2013
The Barter Theatre’s Mainstage production of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is a wonderfully well done and family-friendly stage version of the much-beloved novel first published in 1868. Al-though primarily written for young girls, it pushed many boundaries of the time by introducing Jo, Beth, Amy and Meg March as realistic humans instead of the stereotypically innocent creatures prevalent in children’s literature of the time.
Although a bit old for their parts — Meg, at 16, is the oldest — the Barter’s resident company quickly invokes the audience’s suspension of disbelief with excellent performances across the board. Hannah Ingram, as the tom-boyish Jo, an aspiring writer and the novel’s most memorable character, brings the ebullient teenager to life just as read-ers have long imagined her.
Holly Williams is perfect as the slightly air-headed, egotistical and often vindictive Amy. Her performance is, without doubt, the show’s best. That is, of course, not to disparage anyone else in this witty and warm production.
The story, for those of us who haven’t read Little Women since the fifth or sixth grade, goes like this:
The March family of Massachusetts is living in gentile poverty because their father, Robert, is off serving as an army chaplain during the American Civil War. (In the novel, the family is impoverished because Mr. March, for-merly wealthy, had helped friends repay a huge debt.) With Father away, mother Marmee, the family maid Hannah, and the four sisters are forced to cope with life on their own but, although impoverished themselves, they sacrifice much of what little they have to help others even less fortunate.
Justin Tyler Lewis, who is really developing as one of Barter’s most promising young actors, portrays Laurie Lawrence, the orphaned grandson of wealthy Mr. Lawrence who acts as a sort of protector of the March family and who loves Beth especially because she reminds him of his deceased daughter.
Sean Michael Flattery, a Barter newcomer with a relatively minor role as Brooke in this play but who is excellent in Walking Across Egypt (also playing now) brings a special look and talent to Barter this spring. Watch this guy — he has “great future” written all over him.
Overall, Little Women is an excellent choice for a family outing. It is clean and clever, but hardly saccharine. You will not be disappointed.
Robert McKinney | Special to the Herald Courier
For info and reservations: (276) 628-3991 or www.bartertheatre.com.