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LITTLE WOMEN presented by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company through March 21. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.
A cold February night brings the March Family to the stage at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Director Sara Clark has assembled a talented and strong ensemble to bring these characters to life.
When some of the cast were playing the younger versions of their characters, I felt they pushed a bit too hard and the performances didn’t come off as honest. The characterizations did grow stronger as the play progressed. For me, the family became cohesive with the news of their father’s illness.
Maggie Lou Rader was engaging as strong-willed Jo. I enjoyed Caitlin McWethy’s Beth, who was the only one who could calm Jo’s forthrightness. I would have liked to have seen some physical or verbal reaction by Jo at the end of the scene where Jo is reading to Beth in the bedroom.
The pigtails and fingers-on-chalkboard voice of young Amy nicely transformed into a worldly and educated young woman as played by Courtney Lucien. I thought the deepening of Amy and Laurie’s relationship come together naturally. Also well-handled was the change this caused in Jo and Laurie’s (Justin McCombs) relationship.
I thoroughly enjoyed Nicholas Rose as Professor Bhaer. His performance was charming, sweet and I found it quite easy to see the attraction between Bhaer and Jo. Abby Rowold is convincingly old and bitter aged-up into the role of Aunt March. I was confused by the gender-bending casting of Frank Delaney as Aunt Carol. For me, it was more distracting than a strong comic element.
Speaking of distracting, I had the same reaction to the technological additions (flat screen windows and projections) to the show. The concept is interesting, but perhaps better used on a more contemporary script. For me, the digital special effects intruded on the simplicity of the time period.
Small complaints aside, this is a heartfelt and entertaining version of the literary classic.
My rating: 4.25 out of 5
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