Box Office: 0113 250 5011
Little Women ‘a first class production’
Posted on 11th Nov 2014 by BrassNeck
John Burland review BrassNeck’s production of Little Women
Little Women written by Louisa May Alcott has been much loved by readers, particularly female, throughout the 19th & 20th centuries. The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March—detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood, and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters. The story involves love, romance, ambition but also sadness and is set in Concord, Massachusetts.
The novel has twice been adapted for cinema, the first film appearing in 1949 starring June Allyson as Jo and Elizabeth Taylor as Amy and also in 2004 with Wionna Ryder as Jo and Kirsten Dunst as Amy.
In 2004 the story was turned into a musical adapted from Alcott’s book by Allan Knee, with lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, and music by Jason Howland and opened on Broadway on 23 January 2005. It is now released for amateur performers and is being performed this week by BrassNeck Theatre at Yeadon Town Hall.
With a spectacular set designed by Peter Stebbings, this is production is yet another triumph by this very talented company and Royston Bayfield the Director and Tom Kyle the Musical Director need to be applauded for the first class production that they have created.
However a great production team is no good unless they have the acting and singing talent to back up their work and here they have it in abundance. All the performers from the major principals to the chorus members played their part in portraying this fabulous story to the audience. However, there are some performances that I must highlight for special mention.
Firstly Lisa Simpson as Jo March. This is a woman with a wonderful voice and a superb stage presence who draws the audience in with her every note and word. Faultless throughout Lisa turned in for me the performance of the night. Her solos in Better, The Fire Within Me and Sometimes When You Dream were superb as were her duets Could You? with Christine Castle as Aunt March, Small Umbrella in the Rain with Phil Yeadon as Professor Bhaer and Take a Chance on Me with Ben Tomlinson as Laurie.
And here I must mention both Ben and Phil as the two leading male actors. Both have impeccable pedigrees in amateur theatre having had starring roles in many productions locally and their talent really shone out in this production.
I was also highly impressed with Helen Wrigglesworth as Meg, Brogan Hollindrake as Beth and Lydia Bradd as Amy, the other three sisters. All contributed well and I particularly liked Brogan’s duets Off to Massachusetts with Stephen Jamieson as Mr Laurence and Some Things Are Meant to Be with Lisa. Helen Wrigglesworth had a very catchy number Delighted with Marmee played by Laura Judge whose solo number Days of Plenty was also delightful. And young Lydia Bradd sang well with Ben Tomlinson in their duet The Most Amazing Thing.
Christine Castle, another doyenne of local theatre excelled as Aunt March, doubling up also as Mrs Kirk in the second act of the production. Stephen Jamieson, another long serving member also excelled in the role of Mr Laurence. The final principal member Chris Slater as John Brooke duetted well with Helen in More Than I Am.
Being a relatively new production none of the songs were known to me before the performance but the tunes are very catchy – almost Sondheimish – and with Jason Howland coming from Concord itself he knew probably better than most the Little Women story and its settings.
I believe there are still some tickets left for performances at the end of the week – ring 01132505011 – or click here
to book your seats. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.