This past weekend, I had the privilege to see a preview of Cornerstone’s production of Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women. In its brief length, I experienced truly memorable performances from an exceptional cast under the enviable direction of Nancy Wagner, a seasoned performer around Grand Rapids and theatre instructor at GRCC. The production proves an entertaining escape from the worries and freezing of today, transporting viewers to a “simpler time” of adolescent love and that beneficial little thing called family.
The timeless story of growing up is given the premium treatment thanks to Wagner’s thoughtfully realistic approach to the performances which truly made the show. The most popular adaptation of Alcott’s work remains the 1933 film starring the unquestionably iconic Katharine Hepburn as the passionate and temperamental Jo March. Thankfully, Ms. Wagner doesn’t try to echo Hepburn’s scene-stealing characterization, instead going for a more theatrically appropriate approach: realism. Portrayed by Skye Walker, Jo is passionate and temperamental but portrays such traits with mild restraint, as the play does take place during the American Civil War, well before the feminist movement even appeared. The rest of the cast do a fine job of bringing such characters as Jo’s impulsive younger sibling Amy [Jory van Dyke], the frail yet gifted Beth [Rebecca Wierenga], the subtly graceful mother Marmee [Alexa Heeres], and many others the performances worthy of modern theatre, disconnecting perfectly from the popular film. Here, characters aren’t portrayed as slots to be played by character actors in a Hollywood production; they feel like truly realized people which adds to rather than dilutes the heartbreak and sacrifice of the choices they make over the course of the show.
Tickets for the production are $12 for adults and $10 for non-Cornerstone students and Senior citizens. The show plays at the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary this Thursday thru Saturday at 7.30 pm as well as a matinee Saturday at 2.30 pm. There will be a talk-back Friday night with the cast and crew. Don’t miss this one; it’s well worth your time and support.