Tuesday 27th to Saturday 31st January 2009
The show was a resounding success and played to full houses almost every night of the run.
The Evening Echo said...
It is interesting to note that Louisa May Alcott once dismissed this sort of work as moral pap for the young, but her famous story remains hard to resist, even today, and the audience’s enjoyment of this show was unmistakable.
The whole cast performed extremely well and were ably supported by a nicely detailed set, sumptuous costumes and even some rather pleasant piano music between the scenes. Mrs March (Maria Head) gives her four daughters plenty of uplifting lectures and some bite is added to the general sweetness by Angharad Price’s pettish Amy and Ros Liddiard’s formidable Aunt March.
There are also occasional aggressive outbursts from tomboy Jo, played by Ruth Kibble with lanky humour and great emotional range. Hazel Burrows, as the family’s maid, is also noteworthy, for a seamless performance that earns laughs for the most unlikely lines.
A note from the director
'Little Women' was always a favourite of mine, reading and re-reading the story throughout my early years. I discovered that in America 'Little Women' and 'Good Wives' are always read or performed together, whilst in the UK they are separate books. There were two other books to follow, 'Little Men' and 'Jo's Boys' (my favourite - a real 'weepy' in which Jo runs an orphanage for wayward boys).
Louisa May Alcott based the story on her own early life and that of her sisters. She was an aspiring writer and composed plays for herself and her sisters to act in. 'The Witch's Curse' included in 'Little Women' was first performed by the Alcott sisters!
I realise that for some the story is too sentimental for their taste, but the fact remains that it continues to enchant successive generations of devotees.
An American 1860s Christmas
Over the last couple of months during rehearsals, I have been asked if the Americans had Christmas trees in the 1860s, and if so, what were they decorated with. For those who are keen to know - in the Cody's Magazine publication in 1850 an article and illustration depicting the British Royal Family celebrating around the Christmas tree is generally seen as a seminal event in the ultimate American adoption of this German custom (Prince Albert of course was German). Successive waves of German immigrants seeking to recreate a bit of his homeland in his new surroundings were responsible for the decorated tree. It was so established, that a 'German tree' was placed at the White House by President Franklin Pierce in 1856. Traditionally the Germans always put their tree on a table and decorations for the Christmas tree were usually edible - chains of popcorn, biscuits etc. Later, in the mid 1860s, Germany would change that fashion due to the popularity of glass blowing, which expanded to include delicate ornaments and baubles.
The German settlers in Pennsylvania decorated trees and the custom of 'trimming the tree' spread rapidly throughout the world. I have decided that our Christmas tree is to be trimmed with edible treats and glass baubles and beads, and the star is definitely homemade! I like to think that Amy, being the artistic one, would have made this.
The life of Louisa May Alcott
Louisa was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29th 1832. It is an interesting fact in connection with her life and death that Miss Alcott and her father were born on the same day of the month and that they died within 24 hours of one another.
The parents of Louisa moved to Boston when she was two years old and she made her home around that area. She was educated as a schoolteacher under the tutelage of her father, and Henry Thoreau, a transcendentalist philosopher. Louisa was 16 when she began to teach in a private school - but she was not happy and preferred to write sketches and short stories.
When the Civil War broke out Louisa was one of the army of noble women who went to the front to engage in service as a nurse, but was obliged to give up hospital work after contracting typhoid fever. Recovering from this she then made a trip to Europe, accompanying an invalid friend. A year later, in 1868, on her return to the family home, 'Orchard House' in Concord, she wrote 'Little Women', the tale of a year in the life of a New England family. She had woven so much of her own earlier life, and that of her family - everyone with the exception of Aunt March had a prototype - that fact and fiction grew firmly together to create a domestic novel, which went far beyond its setting. It became a resounding success. She was feted in fashionable drawing rooms. From childhood, she was always an enthusiastic amateur actress, and was a constant theatregoer. It must have been thrilling for her to meet Ellen Terry and also a very young Oscar Wilde whilst in New York.
Louisa never married, but continued to look after her father. She died on March 7th 1888.
|Amy March||Angharad Price|
|Beth March||Joanna Russell,|
|Jo March||Ruth Kibble|
|Meg March||Eleanor Marsden|
|Mrs March (Marmee)||Maria Head|
|Aunt March||Ros Liddiard|
|Mr Lawrence||John Souter|
|Mr March||lan Wilson|
|Mr Brook||Michael J.S. Mears|
|For the Maskers|
|Production Manager||Ken Hann|
|Stage Manager||Ken Spencer|
|Set Design||Ken Spencer, John Hamon|
|Wardrobe||Serena Brown assisted by Susan Wilson|
|Lighting Designer||Clive Weeks|
|Lighting Operators||Jamie McCarthy, Mark Harvey|
|Sound Recordist||Geoff Grandy|
|Sound Operator||Stuart Gray|
|Properties||Ella Lockett, Gill Buchanan|
|Assistant Stage Managers||Liz Hill, Alison Tebbutt, Geoff and Pam Cook|
|Set Dressing||Adam Taussik, Sarah Russell|
|Set Construction||Roger Lockett, Graham Buchanan|
|Marketing and publicity||Angela Stansbridge ,Pam & Geoff Cook, Geoff Wharam, Sarah Russell|
|Publicity Design||John Hamon|
|Programme Coordinator||Sandy White|
|FOH Coordinator||Pete Hill|
|FOH Display||Paula Beattie|
|Other backstage and FOH duties||Members of the Company|
|Box Office and Catering||The Nuffield Theatre|
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