The relentless hours, commitment, effort, direction and talent poured into the Theatre Department’s production of "Little Women" paid off in full. The Bethel community agrees this weekend’s musical was a complete success! As a lover of the "Little Women" novel and movie, I had some lofty expectations for it, but found myself pleasantly surprised by the talent, professionalism and sheer entertainment of the performance.
The cast and direction faced an incredible challenge with their choice of production, since the "Little Women" novel and movie are such beloved classics. There’s absolute magic in growing up with the March sisters and watching them mature, but that’s so much easier to portray in text and film than on stage. Bethel’s Theatre Department went for it anyway and found success.
The set was simple but efficient, and the costumes accurately depicted the Civil War culture. Props seemed to be utilized well, and the music and dance provided a deeper, artistic flair. "Little Women" isn’t traditionally a musical, so I expected the songs to interfere with dialogue and make it awkward and choppy. There were a couple of scenes that could’ve bypassed the music, but for the most part, the songs and dance added emotions that I wouldn’t have perceived otherwise.
The show’s most redeeming merit in my opinion was the cast’s talent across the board. Becki Visker did an outstanding job capturing Jo’s quirky, yet empowered spirit, and Jimmy Bennett’s effortless voice wooed us in the audience – even if it couldn’t woo Jo.
“I thought Becki Visker, as Jo, did a great job,” said sophomore Shelby Tuck. “She put just enough spunk and sincerity into the role to make it feel genuine.”
I thought Sabrina Hallock’s solemnity was spot-on as Marmee, and Sarah Fish completely owned Aunt March’s crusty persona. Also, extra kudos go to Professor Baer for his skilled German accent and natural humor. When all said and done, each of the actors and actresses sold me their part, and I was surprised how emotionally invested I was when the final curtain fell.
Freshman Abigail Kirk judges with good authority after watching the musical three times as an usher.
“It was excellent!” she said. “I wept every time at the scene with Beth and Joe on the beach… And the music! Bethel has truly won me over in terms of musicals with this production. I can honestly say that theatrical musicals can be wonderful, believable and deeply emotional. This one surely was!”
“The show was enjoyable and entertaining,” said Tuck. “It was able to keep the audience's attention until the very end, even though Jo didn't end up with Laurie... boo!”
All in all, the combination of talented acting, costuming and vocals created the magic I was hoping for. I was convinced that the girls had, indeed, grown into women and found their ways in the world – the essential selling point of the entire musical. Mission accomplished, "Little Women" cast and crew!