The American Civil War is often associated with battles, slavery and the Underground Railroad. Intimate stories of sisters finding themselves in a society ruled by etiquette and gender norms are not typically the first to come to mind. Inspired by the Broadway musical and the original novel by Louisa May Alcott, Colorado College’s adaptation of “Little Women” follows the playful yet heart-breaking lives of the March sisters as they embrace womanhood and face the challenges of growing up.
The show, directed by Daniel Forsha and Daniel Brink, features Sophomore Ali McGarigal as the aspiring writer, Senior Maddie Miller as the youngest sister and society girl, Amy, Junior Sierra Melton as the eldest sister and romantic, Meg, and Freshman Annabel Driussi as the aspiring pianist, Beth. The sisters come together in a heartfelt account of what it is like to be a young American woman in the late 1860s.
Although “Little Women” is considered a classic novel for both children and adults, that doesn’t stop the author and subsequent adaptors from exploring the social constraints of women during the 1860s. The challenges they face are addressed in the first scene of the musical as Jo struggles to infiltrate the male-dominated world of writing. Her struggle is emphasized by the depiction of her sisters Amy and Meg subscribing to norms by getting married and having children.
As the story progresses, we witness the strength of the women in their various walks of life. Because of her desire to travel and write, Jo represents the modern working woman, She demonstrates that it is possible to be ambitious and married at the same time when she marries Professor Bhaer, played by Tiere Allen, her mentor and the biggest supporter of her career. In the end, the performance proves that there is no one right way to be a woman. The cast and production team did a marvelous job recreating not only the characters and their personalities, but the whole light-hearted feel of the novel. “I thought Dan did an amazing job,” McGarigal said of Fosha’s representation of the book through the musical.
“The Broadway musical itself is a very condensed version of the book, and so it goes through a whole rollercoaster of emotions, and he was really good at trying to get us to get all of our energy through that and really sell each emotion as it comes,” McGarigal added. It seems the actresses’ relationship with the characters themselves played a key role in achieving this result.
“I definitely think I resonate with Jo a lot,” said McGarigal. “I think she’s a strong independent woman and I really strive to be something like that, so it was really fun to put all of my energy into portraying that on stage.” “I loved interacting with all of the other March sisters,” added Melton. “I felt like throughout the rehearsal process we just formed more of like a sisterly relationship and it was really fun to do the dance numbers like ‘Delighted’ and ‘Five Forever’ with them.”
The musical aspect of the show played a critical part in recreating the novel. Musical numbers such as “Delighted,” “Off to Massachusetts,” “The Fire Within Me,” and “Some Things are Meant to Be,” accompany the story in times of humor and in sorrow. The musical became an emotional and memorable experience that left me obsessed with the soundtrack for days to come. Though the music sometimes overpowered the singing during the show, the musical ensemble’s performance was spot-on when compared to the original Broadway soundtrack.