By Louisa May Alcott
Adapted by Bob Knuth & Rani Blair-O’Brien
Directed by Bob Knuth
At Circle Theatre
Heartwarming tribute to the human spirit marks Circle Theatre’s sweet new adaptation of Little Women
Bob Knuth’s new adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic, Little Women, focuses on the first part of the novel during the Civil War 1863-64 from Christmas to Christmas. This enchanting adaptation looks terrific on Bob Knuth’s splendid set depicting a mid-19th Century New England home with Patti Roeder’s authentic period dresses and smart male fashions.
Much to his credit, Bob Knuth has his stellar cast honestly present the loving, loyal and supportive atmosphere of the March household led by the matriarch, ‘Marmee’ (Anita Hoffman). From the eldest march sister, Meg (Laura McClain), to Beth (Jill Sesso), to the youngest sister, Amy (Abigail St. John) to the tom-boy, independent-minded Jo (Kiernan Welsh-Phillips)–we quickly appreciate the genuine goodness of these women. Despite their near poverty (their father left them to serve as a chaplain in the Union Army), Marmee and the girls cooperate to assure that the family and their neighbors survive. The March clan typify the strength of New England families.
The sisters learn through various trials and tribulations that love and acceptance within the family is superior to material wealth. And that helping others is virtue. We witness little squabbles and tragedies that could easily destroy a family make the March clan stronger as they persevere in a blindly optemistic belief that ‘things will workout just fine.’
As Meg meets John Brooke (Kevin Anderson) and sparks fly between Laurie (the charming Jeremy Myers) and Jo, we witness the repressed sexuality of Victorian New England where proper and formality govern courtships. We easily grow to love and admire this family and their neighbors. Circle Theatre’s Little Woman is not the musical but Bob Knuth’s drama contains Civil War Era songs with a scattering of Christmas songs to warm the heart. This Little Woman introduces Jo March as the first American juvenile heroine to little girls. This production has loads of heart yet it never sinks into sentimentality.
Little Woman plays as a tribute to the human spirit and the sanctity of the family. It is a feel-good show that is a family and holiday friendly fare. Kieran Walsh-Phillips as Jo and Jeremy Myers as Laurie were particularly terrific.
At Circle Theatre, 7300 W. Madison, Forest Park, IL, call 708-771-0700, tickets $20 – $24 ($2 off for seniors/students), Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 & 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission.