Little Women The Musical
Music and lyrics by Lionel Segal, book by Peter Layton
The Lost Theatre
Little Women is a musical based upon the classic book of the same name written by Louisa May Alcott in 1868. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, it tells the tale of the March sisters whose father has volunteered to minister to the troops. Over the course of the story, the girls learn lessons about life, love, friendship and the big bad world. By the end of the show, however, they have matured into the Little Women of the title with husbands and a different set of prospects.
Charlotte Newton John captures headstrong Jo extremely well treading a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The musical numbers are appropriately paced and, as this is not a sung-through musical, serve to emphasise the themes of the production. "Loverin’" and "The First Lady of Literature" are perfect showcases for the character with her wild flights of imagination.
Caroline Rodgers’s rendition of "Everybody bosses me around" displays the childish characteristics of Amy and her malapropisms are well delivered. It is Amy who grows most obviously throughout the story and Rodgers’s composure and posture in the later scenes subtly display this change.
Claire Chambers and Laura Hope London also offer strong performances as Meg and Beth respectively. All the Little Women interact well and the scenes shared between the sisters are the strongest in the show. Their group vocals are both sweet and bright and the dynamics between the characters are easy to understand.
However, whilst the whole cast attack the show with gusto, some of the lines between character and caricature occasionally blur.
It would be easy to criticise the show for its sentimentality, but the overarching themes of hard work and love are wonderfully optimistic and this is a solid adaptation of a classic. Not all of the melodies are memorable but the lyrics are vivid and perfectly suited to each personality. Little Women is an enjoyable production with robust performances and a great energy that transmits easily to the audience. Who says only panto can feature a happy ending?
Runs until 7th January 2012
Reviewer: Amy Yorston