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Little Women

(Left to right) Emery Hines as Jo March and Charlotte Movizzo as Beth March
(L to R) Emery Hines as Jo March and Charlotte Movizzo as Beth March
Photo: RDG Photography
 
In the midst of our current global trauma, Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's production of this thoughtful musical adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel is the perfect balm, with the March family pulling together in the midst of the Civil War Between the States, suffering its share of tragedies, but lifted by many joys.

Eric Heine as Laurie and Emery Hines as Jo
Eric Heine as Laurie
and Emery Hines as Jo
Photo: RDG Photography
 
It is also the story of one woman's lifelong ambition (that of Jo March) to become a writer of note, and her efforts to overcome sexism and a deficit of worldly experience, until her heartfelt story and that of her family had ripened into the great drama that still leaps from her (Alcott's) pages today.

Emery Hines, as Jo, draws a strong, funny, and poignant portrait of the indomitable and spirited writer, in song (a warm mezzo) and dialog (a visceral resolve)—topping off Act I with the show stopper, "Astonishing"; walking an emotional tightrope through the heart-wrenching demise of her sister Beth (Charlotte Movizzo); capturing the illuminating moment when the novel is conceived from her losses and her need to keep her family together in her heart; culminating in the climactic catharsis with Professor Bhaer (Chris Bain); and, finally reaching the denouement when Jo reflects on her dream come true.

(Center)Jalyn Webb as Marmee, (clockwise from lower left) Sara Kowalski as Amy, Elaina Osburn as Meg, Emery Hines as Jo, and Charlotte Movizzo as Beth
(Center) Jalyn Webb as Marmee, (clockwise from lower
left) Sara Kowalski as Amy, Elaina Osburn as Meg,
Emery Hines as Jo, and Charlotte Movizzo as Beth
Photo: RDG Photography
 
In Jalyn Webb's Marmee March we see the wise matriarch from whom Jo's strength is inherited, as she holds the family together in the absence of Mr. March, who is away, serving as a chaplain in the Union Army. Webb's solos rock the house, nuancing the only moments (in song) when Marmee expresses her fears, as well as a knockout performance of the uplifting and inspiring "Days of Plenty," reminiscent in tone to "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," from The Sound of Music.

The ensemble is polished throughout: Sara Kowalski is a bundle of fire as the feisty Amy; Elaina Osburn draws a warm portrait of the reserved Meg, as she gains confidence; and Charlotte Movizza embodies the selfless Beth, the musical sister with the sparkling soprano; Eric Heine is winsome as the charming Laurie; Chris Bain paints an endearing portrait of the formal Professor Bhaer who eventually confesses his love for Jo; Michelle Jeffries' crotchety and strict Aunt March delightfully reveals a soft spot for Jo, as does Todd Ressegute's testy Mr. Laurence for Beth; and, Ethan Lee Knowles deftly reveals the hard-working Mr. Brooke's tender side for Meg.

Directors Pat Payne and Phil Forman seamlessly integrate the blocking, music, choreography, and singers into a sparkling musical tribute to one of the most cherished novels in American literature.

Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's presentation of Little Women—book by Allen Knee, music by Jason Howland, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein—runs through June 6th, 2021. For tickets, call the box office at 970-744-3747 or order online at: coloradocandlelight.com.

Bob Bows



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