Samantha Harper reviews the Just So Society’s musical production of Little Women, who are putting on their final show tonight.
Having grown up a stone’s throw from Concord, MA, Little Women has always been a story close to my heart, so naturally when I heard it was being performed in St Andrews I was thrilled. The story came to life from the first moment and the passion of the small cast was evident. The Stage, a notoriously small space to work with, was constructed in three levels to give more room for the actors to work with. The use of the space around the stage was well done and movement never felt awkward. In period clothes, a set can often be a stumbling block as long skirts and stairs don’t always go well, but the characters seemed at ease with the set and all their blocking. The show was fun and serious and a tear-jerker- everything a good musical should be. The bottom line: Go see it.
However, there are a few things I would have changed. It’s hard to put on a show in such a short amount of time, but on-stage chemistry is crucial to a good show. While the four March Sisters (Mackenzie Pinkin, Harriet Tyler, Emma Johnston, Aria Ornes) and their Mother (Mhairi Claire Lynch) had a nice companionship, the several love connections seemed awkward at best. The strong friendship between Jo (Pinkin) and Laurie (Alex Schellekens) didn’t come across as much as it could have, leaving some would-be heartbreaking moments a little less poignant that they could have been.
The only other criticism I had would have been the band. The actors didn’t feel fully comfortable with the live music and it definitely made it harder for them, although that didn’t stop a few amazing performances.
While most of the actors did pretty well with a notoriously difficult score, a few stood out among the cast. Professor Bhaer (Jamie Rees) carried a beautiful solo and had a lovely little character arc. I love seeing supporting characters have their own arcs and details; it added a nice touch of depth to the story. Lynch really embodied the character of Marmee and brought the four sisters together. Her solos were heartfelt and beautiful, and I could listen to her sing all day. Pinkin, however, stole the show as Jo. Her voice was gorgeous and her performance bold and nuanced. I could tell throughout how she embodied Jo as a character. Even during scenes where other characters were center stage, all eyes were on Jo. She was genuine and hilarious. I honestly feel hers was the best performance I have seen on a St Andrews stage.
Overall, this production of Little Women was a delight to watch, with moments of amazing musical talent.
Rating: four stars.
Little Women‘s final show is tonight at 7.30pm at the Stage. Tickets are £7, reserve them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or buy at the door.
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