Little Women, The Musical shines at Western Reserve Playhouse

posted Oct 19, 2018, 1:27 PM by kevin kelly

Book by Allan Knee
Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein
Music by Jason Howland
Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott



Based on Louisa May Alcott's classic 1869 semi-autobiographical novel, “Little Women” follows four sisters—the independent, aspiring writer Jo (Kaity Poschner), the romantic Meg (Kayla Lehman), the pretentious Amy (Tenley Stitzer), and the kind-hearted Beth (Abigall Lyman), all under the watchful eye of their beloved mother, Marmee (Bernadette Hisey). while their father is away serving as a Union Army chaplain during the Civil War. Intercut with the vignettes in which their lives unfold are several recreations of the melodramatic short stories Jo writes in her attic studio. Each sister follows a different path but not necessarily what is expected. This coming-of-age tale is filled with drama, romance, humor, and music.

Poschner, as Jo, does a wonderful job leading the sister pack with zest. Her acting chops are the anchor for this characterization, along with a pleasant singing voice. Lehman brings her radiant looks and voice to the role of Meg. Setting sail on the Love Boat and providing a textured performance. Stitzer as Amy does a great job and pushing every trigger in the family. Her contemptuous behavior is great and adds a well-appreciated level to the proceedings. Lyman is the vocal powerhouse here providing a deft characterization and textured vocals to her interpretation of Beth. She made me cry. That’s a good sign.

Hisey leads the adult brigade with a beautiful performance as Marmee. Armed with a beautiful voice which revels in interpretation, an acute sense of timing and environment, and her confident aura, she is a textured delight. One of my favorites memories is the performance of Shelly Palumbo as Aunt March. Now, this stuff is great. Complete command of the period, time, and a sense of comedic timing which ranks up there with the best in the area.

Jay Sigler is quite charming as Professor Bhaer. His characterization is straight on and very enjoyable. Creating a character that makes you want to root for him in the end, and makes you delighted when life finally hands him his due. Well done. Michael Knobloch serves up some romantic lead realness as Laurie, and is ridiculously charming and armed with a beautiful musical voice. Steve Schuerger brings Mr. Brooks to life with subtle acting choices and a great centered focus.

The rest of the company provide solid trimmings to the event. Walt Kaminski as Mr. Laurence, Molly Kessler, Christina Worchester, and Dorota Zarzycka as Mrs. Kirk. I have to throw out some major love the story players within the story. The actors that act out Jo’s story creations are a blast. They are as follows: Clarissa (Shipley) A sweet young women fleeing the evil villain Sir Braxton Prendergast (Schuerger). Rodrigo (Knobloch) The determined and brave hero. The Hag (Palumbo) A mysterious creature who shows Clarissa the way through the forest in return for her combs. The Troll (Kessler) A greedy monster who takes Clarissa across wild rapids in return for her necklace. The Knight (Kaminski) A tired and lonely old man who gives Clarissa his sword in return for her kindness to him. Rodrigo II (Lyman) The real hero of Jo’s operatic tragedy – Clarissa’s long-lost sister. This is so much fun and staged incredibly well.

There were just a couple of observations. The turntable was a very unique addition to the set, but it did result in some close quarters during some of the scenes. There were a few pitchy moments throughout the evening. But, those moments were minimized by secure acting underneath.

Director Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski has assembled a great cast and moves the action with great pace. The staging of the play within the play was a blast. Musical Director Dave Stebbins provided great support and sound. Jennifer Justice added some fun and energetic movement to the mix. Stage Manager Brianna Laybourn called a great show. Set Designer Todd Plone surprises the WRP crowd with a well-designed turntable. Well Done. Costumer Kelsey Tomlinson provided period perfect looks to add to this classic tale. Sound Designer Justin Herman supported with clarity. Light Designer Kevin Rutan provided a sold lighting palate for the story.

This show is a respectable creation of the musical based on a classic book. My observation of the room was one filled with enjoyment. That’s a winner.

 

 Cleveland Stage Alliance


"Last Weekend" October 20

Showtimes:

8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays (10/14 only)


Tickets:
$15-$17

(330) 620-7314
Order Tickets Online

Location:
Western Reserve Playhouse
3326 Everett Rd
Richfield, OH 44286

Comments