Tale of the March sisters comes alive in song in latest Geyer production
A favorite classic novel comes to life in a production of “Little Women the Musical” being staged Nov. 21-24 at Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale.
The musical directed by Jill Jassmann-Sharlock of Acme focuses on the book’s four March sisters and their mother, Marmee, living in Concord, Mass., while their father is away from home serving as a Union Army chaplain during the Civil War.
Several themes are woven throughout the musical — of teenage girls navigating life and growing up, of breaking industry barriers, of life with an absent father — and the most important theme to Jassmann-Sharlock — that family matters.
“I love that the (‘Little Women’) movie is being released soon, because it is a story that needs to be told over and over, to remind people of what is important,” the director says.
Not only the story line, but the music, contribute to making “Little Women the Musical” a special theatrical production, according to Jassmann-Sharlock.
“There are many play adaptations of this story out there,” she says, “and then someone had the great idea to add music — and it is gorgeous music. The score is phenomenal, and difficult, although the highly talented cast of this show makes it look and sound so easy.”
Her credits include recently stage managing “The Rocky Horror Show” and “Guys and Dolls,” and directing “Cats” in 2016, all at the Geyer.
Character reflects book’s author
Jordan Gilbert of West Newton plays Jo, the March sister that is an aspiring writer. Her character is loosely based on the book’s author, Louisa May Alcott.
“Jo is an ambitious, headstrong woman who sort of lives in her own little world,” Gilbert says. “She only really cares about a few people who mean the world to her, and everyone else can take her or leave her.”
Portraying the other March sisters are Carolyn Jerz as Amy, Rebekah Laughlin as Meg and Isadora Sharlock as Beth.
Justin Williams of Uniontown plays Professor Friedrich Bhaer, a German immigrant living in New York City who becomes part of Jo’s life in New York when she is trying to sell her writing.
“Being loud and opinionated, she and Bhaer definitely don’t pair very harmoniously from the start,” Gilbert says. “Because they’re so different from each other, opposites attract, and I imagine they balance each other out in many ways.”
Besides being very funny, she says “Little Women” also succeeds in its efforts to be heartfelt and meaningful.
“Around the adventures of the plucky heroine, Jo, the show has a ton to say about trying to follow your dreams, losing sight of passions and the importance of friends and family as support,” she says.
Her most recent credit was playing Miss Honey in the Geyer’s production of “Matilda.”
Williams also performed in the production of “Matilda,” as well as “The Crucible” and “A Chorus Line.”
“If you like the book, you will like this show,” he says. “If this is the first time you are seeing the show, then you should come for the beautiful music, the high levels of emotion and the coming-of-age story about a family of four sisters amid the Civil War.”
The takeaway from “Little Women” is that “love and determination can conquer anything,” he adds.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.