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Little Women

Exhibiting their support for each other, the four sisters in Little Women the Musical are, from left, Meg (Jennifer Janine), Jo (Lyric Gianna), Amy (Emma Prescott) and Beth (Alli Ruiz). The classic play, set in 1869, chronicles the journey of the sisters from childhood to womanhood in a Civil War torn society. It opens Friday at the Golden Chain Theatre and plays weekends through April 9.
Exhibiting their support for each other, the four sisters in Little Women the Musical are, from left, Meg (Jennifer Janine), Jo (Lyric Gianna), Amy (Emma Prescott) and Beth (Alli Ruiz). The classic play, set in 1869, chronicles the journey of the sisters from childhood to womanhood in a Civil War torn society. It opens Friday at the Golden Chain Theatre and plays weekends through April 9. Special to Sierra Star

Little Women the Musical opens Friday night at the Golden Chain Theatre, the first nine-show production of the GCT’s 50th Anniversary.

The show will play at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays through April 9.

The production is based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic 1869 semi-autobiographical novel that has been cherished by children and adults alike for generations.

The play features the stories of the four March sisters, Jo (Lyric Gianna) the opinionated, independent aspiring writer - Meg (Jennifer Janine) the romantic - Beth (Alli Ruiz) the kind-hearted - and Amy (Emma Prescott and Amber Persson) the pretentious one.

The story chronicles the journey of each of these girls from childhood to womanhood in a Civil War torn society. Their beloved mother, Marmee (RuthAnn VanBuren), desperately attempts to keep their Concord, Massachusetts home together while her husband is away serving as a Union Army Chaplain during the war.

“My grandmother introduced me to Little Women, and I poured over the book many times, until Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy were dear friends,” VanBuren said. “I am thrilled to be part of bringing the March sisters to another generation with this talented cast. I love how Marmee guides her girls through life’s joys and heartaches, encouraging them to become women of substance and grace - a message that is still important for girls today.”

The musical version of Little Woman was written in 2001 by Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein. It enjoyed a lucrative Broadway run between 2005 and 2006 featuring Sutton Foster and Maureen McGovern as Jo March and Marmee.

The story of a woman born before her time is especially appropriate for this day and age. It shows the struggle that women faced during that dark time in our history.

VanBuren was introduced to Little Women by her grandmother.

“I poured over the book many times, until Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy were dear friends,” VanBuren said. “I am thrilled to be part of bringing the March sisters to another generation with this talented cast. I love how Marmee guides her girls through life’s joys and heartaches, encouraging them to become women of substance and grace - a message that is still important for girls today.”

Gianna, who plays the aspiring writer Jo, feels her character represents the ambition in all of us.

“The blind faith that we have as a child that is often tarnished by the happenings of the world and the mistakes we make,” Gianna said. “What makes Jo brilliant is not her talent, but her perseverance. She demonstrates that there is no sense in giving up on something just because it seems too difficult to achieve. Jo makes you believe that anything is possible.”

The romantic Meg, played by Janine, who is also the GCT artistic director, was surprised and honored to be chosen to play Meg March alongside what she describes as an amazing cast of talented girls.

“I have been a lover of the novel since I was a kid, but the musical causes your emotions to soar along with the characters,” explained Janine. “My very favorite part of the show is being able to work with Lyric Gianna, this time on stage as her sister rather than as her director and real life mom. This is a wonderful must see show for families. its a classic tale artfully put on the stage that will make you laugh and cry.”

Prescott, 9, plays the young Amy, and Persson, 14, plays the older Amy in the production.

“At the beginning of the show, Amy March is a snooty little girl that just wants to be an adult,” Persson said. “Then she goes to Europe for a while, and comes back very different. Older Amy is still dramatic but has matured from her snooty character. She is still self centered but recognizes that other people matter as well.”

Persson said she enjoys the show because the fantastic story and music.

“I love all the characters and watching each one grow throughout the show,’ Persson said. “It’s a lot of fun to come back and be as dramatic as I want and wear some really pretty dresses. It’s an amazing show and I’m thrilled to be a part if it.”

The production is intercut with vignettes recreating the melodramatic short stories that Jo writes in her attic studio.

Little Women is directed by James Mierkey, who has written and directed shows for GCT over the past five years, as well as played such notable characters on stage as Harold Hill in The Music Man and Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.

“It is not very often we have the opportunity to provide such beautiful emotional content for our actors to stretch artistically,” Mierkey said. “I fell in love with this story decades ago, but since hearing this beautiful score, it has renewed my passion for this wonderful tale. My love of history combined with this amazing musical setting has made this work an absolute joy, not to mention being able to work with such talented and dedicated performers.”

“This is a perfect show to begin our banner 50th season that will include such other favorites as Arsenic and Old Lace, The Drunkard, and Dial M for Murder.” Mierkey said.

Details: Little Women the Musical runs every Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. March 24 through April 9. Tickets are available at www.goldenchaintheatre.org and includes special pricing for seniors, children and active military. (559) 683-7112.

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