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Theater premieres ‘Little Women’

Natchez Little Theatre, Mississippi’s oldest community theatre celebrating 81 years of entertainment, is proud to present for the Civil War Sesquicentennial and Natchez Fall Pilgrimage, Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic, “Little Women.”

For many generations, Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” has remained the most popular juvenile novel written by an American, and the characters of Jo, Meg, Amy, Beth, Marmee, Laurie, Professor Bhaer and John Brooke have lived in and gladdened the hearts of millions upon millions of boys and girls all over the world, for this classic American life has been translated into every known language.

“Little Women” is renowned because it was written by a woman during the mid 19th century, when writers were male, and it was considered a sacrilege for women to write. Not only did Louisa May Alcott write the great American novel, but she inhabited it with women as the main characters, quite unique in 19th century American literature.

It is a story that never has and never will grow old because it deals with the greatest of human emotions: a mother’s love for her children and their appreciation of it and her.

Who can forget wild, romping, tomboy Jo, played by Joanna Johnson and Jordan Waller, and her desire “To be the man of the family.” Of her sacrificing her glorious hair to help finance her mother’s trip to Washington when the telegram arrived saying her father, played by Mike Thomas, was dying.

Of her writing “The Christmas Play,” rehearsing Amy, played by Taylor Spring and Camille Taylor, in the fainting scene and then playing of the drama on the fateful night when everything went dead wrong and they all ended in a heap on the floor.

Her side-splitting pranks with Laurie, played by Dwight Williams, her quarrel with Amy, who had destroyed her first written story. Her beautiful scenes with Little Beth, played by Abbie Dill & Ashleigh Johnson, when they both knew the Angel of Death was hovering near.  Of her going to New York, meeting Professor Bhaer, played by Marc Taylor in his NLT debut, in Mrs. Kirk’s rooming house, their comedy courtship and ultimate marriage.

These in themselves furnish material for several plays but are only incidents in a story replete with drama and comedy. For as yet we have not touched upon Aunt March, played by Morgan Mizell and Courtney Taylor, and her crotchety croakings against the love affair of Meg, portrayed by Hannah Hargis, and John Brooke, played by Derek Braswell and Stacey Carden, and of her weakening when the twins, Daisy and Demi, arrive.

Nor have we mentioned Laurie’s bewilderment upon discovering his heart and hand belonged to Amy and not Jo. And last but not least, have we specified the great incident that makes this story one that will live through the ages:  the sound motherly advice and council of Marmee played by Amanda Dill in her NLT debut and Marianne Raley.

That all the circumstances of this great story could be told in one set seemed a Herculean task but it has been accomplished and not one salient incident omitted.

NLT veteran director Lynn Mann did a brilliant job casting the show, but due to health issues had to leave the production. Don Vesterse and I stepped in to complete her vision. The period sets and costumes are magnificent, and the cast is superb! The show is further enhanced by a beautifully orchestrated underscore. A show for the family to see again and again as there are two casts performing “Little Women” for 15 performances starting Thursday at 7 p.m. as benefit for NLT’s Building Fund with $10 tickets and running every Friday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. through Oct. 14, as well as one Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. on Oct. 13, with $15 tickets.

In addition, NLT is performing four student matinees on Tuesday and Thursdays, Oct. 3, 5, 10 and 12 for local area school children with $10 tickets.

Reservations are highly recommended! So please call NLT at 601-442-2233, toll free at 1-877-440-2233 or guarantee your reservation by purchasing them on-line at natcheztheatre.org to avoid the box office lines.

I look forward to celebrating the Natchez Fall Pilgrimage with you at “Little Women.”

 

Layne Taylor is NLT artistic and executive director and director of “Little Women.”