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'Little Women–The Musical' delights Kansas City audiences at OCTA

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Olathe Civic Theatre Assn presents Little Women--The Musical, to the delight of audiences, as evidenced by standing ovations and rapturous applause, for opening weekend, running Feb. 21-March 9.

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In spite of not finding major success on Broadway, fewer than 150 performances, the wholesome, simple, and pleasant story of the March family works well for community theater groups and draws crowds. The sweet story from the pen of Alcott tells of her life in Concord, Massachusetts in the 1850s with her mother and three sisters.

Little Women-the Musical focuses on the main character of Jo, a thinly veiled caricature of Louisa, who does not want to live by the rules and strives to be a renowned author. Little Women tells her story of the struggles of growing up and working toward the successful publishing of her first novel.

Based on the timeless classic Louisa May Alcott's signature book of the same name, Little Women-the Musical, develops from script by Allan Knee, music by Jason Howland, and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein. The OCTA version is directed by Julie Ewing with musical direction by Robyn Harfield.

Expect pretty even performances across the board with the OCTA show. Cara Hampton as Jo carries the show and most of the dialogue. She’s a new face at OCTA and a new talent for the area. Her singing voice is clear and her stage presence is strong. She’s absolutely charming as Jo.

The balance of the ensemble all give worthy performances, but the nature of the show does not allow for any of them to stand out, individually. As for Jo’s sisters, they are relegated to support her character, although Amy gets to show a change of character. Valerie Dykes is a good Marmie, but the on stage time is very limited. As Aunt March, Vicky Delaughder gives a good performance, but again it’s a supporting role with not a lot to do.

The script limits the males in the cast as well. They come on stage for a short scene or to sing and then disappear for lengths of time. Even though qualified actors, the play does not allow them time for any character development or growth. They remain the same throughout the show.

Little Women-the Musical entertains as does the original novel. The show is a sweet look back at a difficult time in American history when the family patriarch is away at war and the women are left at home to raise the family and survive as best they can. The story is timeless. The same scenario repeated in WWI and WWII. By Vietnam time, society had changed and women did not always remain home to only raise the family.

Cast members are: Cara Hampton as Jo, Valerie Dykes as Marmie, Alisha Garnier as Meg, Maggie Marx as Amy, Emma Cook as Beth, Vicky Delaughder as Aunt March, Graham Faireigh as Professor Bhaer, and Steven James as Laurie Lawrence, Matt Richardson as Mr. Brooke, and Chip Buckner as Mr. Lawrence.

Production crew includes: Julie Ewing, director; Robyn Hartfied, music director; Rita Marks, stage manager, Erin Stamer, asst. stage manager, Jay Coombes, choreographer; Susan Mitchell, accompanist; Tim Braselton, conductor; Chuck Cline, light designer; Juie Ras, costumes; Ken Schmidt, set design; Cheryl Singers, properties and set construction; Rick Singers, properties and set construction, John Holand, hair and makeup; and Jessica Acorn, asst. hair and costumes.

The show runs weekends with Friday and Saturday performances at 8p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2p.m. OCTA is located at 500 E Loula, Olathe, KS 66061. Tickets may be purchased online at: www.olathetheatre.org or call or call 913-782-2990.

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