Audience-cast discussion to follow Sunday matinee
BELFAST – The Belfast Maskers Midcoast premiere of “Little Women – the Broadway Musical,” directed by Erik Perkins and Dominic Williams, opens on July 22 for a two-week run indoors at the Basil Burwell Community Theater. Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 masterpiece is a 19th-century time capsule that has spawned more than 10 TV adaptations, four movies – the most recent by Greta Gerwig nominated for a 2019 Best Picture Oscar — a Broadway drama, an opera, a museum, a series of dolls and now a successful musical version. It is a perennial favorite of young adult readers.
“Little Women,” which has never been out of print, follows the adventures of the four teenage March sisters and their mother, living in refined but impoverished circumstances in Concord, Massachusetts, while their father is away during the Civil War. The portrayal of family resilience and an honest look at the struggles of girls growing into women finds new readers every year. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the book has been translated into 50 languages and can be found on many lists of Americans’ ‘100 most favorite books.’
Alcott’s book appeals to girls and boys. President Theodore Roosevelt admitted he “worshipped” “Little Women” and its sequel “Little Men.” At the end of the 19th century, “Little Women” appeared on a list of “20 best books for boys,” but in 2015, Charles McGrath of the New York Times confessed that as a child, he read the book in a brown paper wrapper to avoid taunts from other boys.
Stage Director Erik Perkins says, “Part of the lasting appeal of the novel can be connected to the development of the March sisters’ characters. Each one personifies virtues or foibles that people can identify within themselves. The story teaches a valuable lesson about how success and joy can be measured in quite different ways discovered at the end of individual paths.”
A recent book by Anne Boyd Rioux “Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters” (Norton 2018,) explores the cultural significance of Alcott’s most successful work. Rioux says she was surprised by “the incredibly widespread impact that the classic novel has had on women writers.” In particular, the central character of Jo March, an independent spirit and aspiring author, much like Alcott herself, has fed the imaginations of writers as diverse as Gloria Steinem, Helen Keller, Gertrude Stein, J.K. Rowling and Simone de Beauvoir, according to Rioux.
The Maskers audience is invited to stay following the July 25 Sunday matinee performance and take part in a discussion of the play with Director Perkins and cast members, led by publicist Wendy Schweikert.
Magnificent costumes authentic to the period have been created by Sandy Hall and Linda Marie. The family-friendly production is sponsored by The First, Nickerson Professional Association and Aubuchon Hardware.
“Little Women – the Broadway Musical,” with book by Allan Knee, music by Jason Howland, and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, runs July 22 to Aug. 1, Thursdays to Saturdays 7 p.m., Sundays, 2 p.m., at the Basil Burwell Community Theater, 17 Court Street. Tickets are available online at www.belfastmaskers.com. $20 Adults/$15 ages 17 and under; 15 percent discount for groups of six or more. For more information call 207-619-3256 or email email@example.com.