On Thursday evening, I had the pleasure of taking in Bring On Tomorrow Co.’s production of Little Women. Based on the life of Louisa May Alcott and adapted from her novel, this musical takes up the life of the four March sisters. The audience was transported back in time to New York in the mid-1800’s. The protagonist, Jo March (Michelle Creber) begins the musical by relaying her struggles of getting published to Professor Bhear (Erik Gow). Then, the majority the play is told in a flashback to when she was younger, living with her sisters.
The well-rounded orchestra was a delightful surprise for such a short run. Wonderfully conducted by Michael Creber, the musicians highlighted the magic of the plot and brought Jason Howland’s music to life.
This show calls for minimal choreography. The team of Lalainia Lindbjerg and Lyndsey Britten did a great job of incorporating the style of dance within the era of the 1860’s. Minimal as the choreography was, there could have been more of a connection between the accents in orchestration and choreography. However, all of the actors looked comfortable and confident with each movement on stage. My complements go out to the four sisters who had to dance in long dresses!
The Kay Meek stage is very large for what is usually quite an intimate story, and Lindbjerg could have use that large space more to her advantage. Instead, the set was pushed very far back and the actors often upstaged one another.
A shout out to the costume designer, Christina Sinosich. The costumes were beautiful, and the many quick changes appeared seemless. The set by Todd Ablett worked well for this show, however there seemed to be a lack of pulley systems in the theatre. This resulted in someone from the stage crew having to manually walk across the stage with the scrim. This was distracting.
The actors shone and their voices soared magnicifently together. Particular standouts include Jennifer Gillis in the role of Beth March. Beth was clearly the heart of the show. She brought a smile to my face in songs like “Off to Massachusetts” and tears to my eyes in “Somethings Are Meant to Be”. Erik Gow portrayed the very essence of Professor Bhaer. His German accent was on point and his choices were strong and distinct. He was a joy to watch. Ranae Miller embodied the eldest March sister, Meg, with grace and poise. Chris Adams’s performance of John Brooke matched Miller’s in both singing and acting ability. Both of these artists created a wonderful chemistry in their duet “More Than I Am”.
Additional highlights include Colleen Winton as the wealthy Aunt March and Mrs. Kirk, the owner of the boarding house, playing two wildly different characters. William Tippery played the sweet, Laurie with perfection. Laurie’s grandfather, Mr. Laurence was played by the talented Stephen Aberle whose performance was solid throughout the show.
Michelle Creber who played Jo March, the adventurous and determined writer delivered the strong vocal skills needed to play this role. She did a great job carrying the show. It is hard to believe she is only 18 years old. Monique Creber, mother to Michelle Creber both on and off stage played the role of Marmee. Even though Monique visibly struggled vocally throughout the show due to a cold, she pulled through and delivered as best she could. Actress Julia MacLean played Amy, the youngest of the March sisters. MacLean had a strong vocal performance and stage presence.
Little Women remains a classic, and is a great family show to see this holiday season!
Little Women plays until December 30th, 2017 at the Kay Meek Centre.
Tickets $25-$39. For tickets and more information, click here.