Director Jim Carroll invites us to step back in time to the turbulent 1860s to follow the March sisters, their family, and friends in a wholesome tale of one family’s struggle during the Civil War. We first meet the young sisters, each in various stages of approaching womanhood, at Christmastime in their warm holiday attired parlor. Mr. March has volunteered to serve his country in his role as chaplain and is away at war, leaving Mrs. March (Marmee), Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy and Hannah who is more like family than maid, to tarry on at their genteel New England home while dealing with ever dwindling resources. During the play we witness the endearing March sisters grapple with peaks and vallleys, both internal and external, and grow, for one year until the following Christmas.
Though the play is lengthier than most, Peter Clapham’s stage adaptation of this classic American story by Louisa May Alcott is certainly satisfying. If you have not yet read the book by Alcott, check it out at your local library or from you computer courtesy of Project Gutenberg at www.gutenberg.org (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/514/514-h/514-h.htm). Clapham manages to cram much of the book’s essence into his script and Carroll, cast and crew manage to bring it faithfully to life within 2 1/2 hours, with one 15 minute intermission. The characters’ speeches are well delivered but a bit rapidly, so you must listen closely, and at times the ventilation system vies for attention with the stage, but the actors definitely win out. The set, with its lovely decoration, fireplace and quaint lighting (Charlie Hoover, Jim Carroll, Bill Bloom, Bruce Nutting) conveys the warmth of home, and the beautiful costumes (Betsy Berwick, Cindy Schneeman) lending a sense of yesterday, make this wholesome family drama all the more enjoyable.
Mrs. March (Marmee), as played by Jennifer Wolfe is loving, wise, charitable and understanding; a dear in possession of a catching, effusive personality. Her stage daughters are credible as sisters. Meghan Hindmarch portrayed the eldest, Meg March, ‘quite properly’ with lovely expression, and tomboy Jo, played with much panache by Jenna Glazier, is fun to watch. Beth is given a gorgeously delicate demeanor by Sara Prendergast, and Hannah Kohute as the baby of the family, Amy, at times a regular enfant terrible, skillfully allots her character lady like airs with a side of impudence and manages to keep her character firm even in the face of a costume mishap. All play well against one another. The March family maid, Hannah, played by Janet Tenowich is adorable and provides a bit of comedy, as does the role of mean Aunt March done full tilt by Janean Clare. Alex Yurcaba embues young Laurie, the boy next door, with a great air of enthusiasm and matches Jo quite well, while Joseph Cartagena Jr. affords Laurie’s tutor and Meg’s suitor John Brooke with due somberness and intent. Ben Kendall as Mr. Laurence and Stephen Kelly as Mr. March perform their parts nicely with presence. The cast was well chosen.
LITTLE WOMEN is a good choice for the holidays with its theme of the traditional family values, coming of age, and triumph of the better self. Follow your heart to PCS and hang out with the March family; you can take the kids, too.
Adapted by Peter Clapham
Directed by Jim Carroll
November 23 – December 8, 2012
Players Club of Swarthmore’s Second Stage
614 Fairview Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081