Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Little Women at the Breakthrough Theater in Winter Park.


The Breakthrough Theatre of Winter Park (419A W. Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park) presents the Peter Clapham play, "Little Women", based on the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, and directed by Wade Hair from December 4-14, 2015. I went to the first dress rehearsal and the stage set was close to completion. The walls had just been sponge painted and only two set piece remained to be set up, a fireplace and bookcase, and a small table for tea. I started blocking in the set as the actors got into costume.

Little Women is a coming of age drama tracing the lives of four sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. During the American Civil War, the girls father is away serving as a minister to the troops. The family, headed by their beloved Marmee (Dina Najjar) , must struggle to make ends meet, with the help of their kind and wealthy neighbor, Mr. Laurence, and his high spirited grandson Laurie. The March home is always overflowing with life.

The theater is intimate with only 40 seats. This makes you feel very close to the action on stage.  The eldest daughter Meg March (Ashlee Degelleke) paused before stepping on the stage. "Is it all right if I get on stage?" Being the only person in the audience I said, "of course." She was probably asking the director. In a red dress, she is a beauty, and runs the household when her mother is absent. Meg fulfills expectations for women of the time, she is already a nearly perfect "little woman". She sat at the piano and performed as the other actors got ready.

Josephine March (Allie Novell) , the principle character, is a strong and willful young woman, struggling to subdue her strong personality. Her lack of success in this renders her more realistic and contributes to her charm. The second-oldest of four sisters, Josephine March is the boyish one; her father likes to refer to her as his "son Jo".  Jo loves literature, both reading and writing. She composes plays for her sisters to perform and writes short stories. She initially rejects the idea of marriage and romance, feeling that it would break up her family and separate her from the sisters whom she adores. The actress had a wonderful way of hunching her shoulders making it clears wasn't comfortable in women's gowns. When her long braids are shorn later in the play, she seems more beautiful in he short hair.

Elizabeth March (Abigail Marotta) contracts scarlet fever and the household is bereft since there is nothing they can do to save her. Darkness turns to light and joy seeps in. They celebrate Christmas while singing together around the piano. Although some of the dialogue seemed stiff , formal and affected, which might be true of the times, the show has heart.  This is clearly a show written for women, but I found myself beaming as I rooted for the characters and actresses.  If you want to see a show that can warm your heart this Christmas season, then Little Woman is a must see. The show showcases the value of virtue over wealth.

Show Dates and Times:
December 4-7 (Friday-Monday) and 10-14 (Thursday-Monday) (Thursday, Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m.)

Ticket Prices:
$20.00 general admission $18.00 senior citizens $15.00 students $12.00 Monday and Thursday performances $10.00 Breakthrough Alumni cash only at the door or online at www.breakthroughtheatre.com

RESERVATIONS: 407-920-4034

CAST:
Josephine March: Allie Novell
Meg March: Ashlee Degelleke
Beth March: Abigail Marotta
Amy March: Mackendrick Zavitz
Marmee: Dina Najjar
Laurie Laurence: Joshua Huff
Mr. Brooke: Ryan Roberson
Aunt March: Eileen Antonescu
Mr. Laurence: John Moughan
Hannah: Carol Jacqueline Palumbo
Mr. March: Anthony Marando



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