On realising that I was going to watch an amateur production I embarrassingly didn’t have high hopes for this production of Little Women the Musical – however, within the first few lines, I was proven very wrong.
The Stock Exchange Dramatic and Operatic Society – better known as Sedos – are an amateur company who I now realise deliver professional standard productions. Little Women the Musical is based on the well-known novel by Louisa May Alcott and thankfully stays very true to the story we all know and love. With music by Jason Howland and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein the added musical interludes and belty show stoppers really add to the journey of the show.
On entering the auditorium the set is really very pleasing to the eye and takes you into the attic of the March family’s New England Home. Rustic beams, old-fashioned cases and a piano which looks like it has had better days puts you smack bang in the era and to the time of the American Civil War.
The cast quite often enters the stage through a trap door which acts as the door to the attic. This is a great touch, however, did quite often become distracting with the constant opening and closing and waiting for cast members to climb in and out.
Kate Gledhill plays the outspoken head of the March sisters – Jo March – and does so with complete trueness to the character. Her voice certainly gives Sutton Foster (original Jo March on Broadway) a run for her money and her comic timing is perfect. Her delivery of the song “Astonishing” (a firm favourite with drama school auditionees!) is a particular standout moment of the show and is sung with a real passion and her intonation and acting through song is second to none.
Emma Coffey as Meg March shows the journey from girl to woman beautifully, Kimberly Barker as Beth March really pulls on the heartstrings and Lauren Clarke as the youngest bratty sister is full of childish sass and is a delight to follow around the stage with her huffing and puffing and pouty faces.
The other performers in the show also portray their characters very well and really help to move the story along. There is not one weak link in this well put together cast.
The band conducted by Ryan Macauley played the music with complete grace, however, the mixing levels between them and the performers was sometimes a bit hit and miss. This may, however, have been an opening night issue and will hopefully be resolved for the rest of the run.
The stage was beautifully lit in parts – particularly the closing scene where the lights die down slowly on the attic as if remembering the memories of the March girls – however, there were sometimes very dark moments (lighting wise) which really shouldn’t have been lit that way so it seemed to me like there may have been a problem with the cue desk.
Overall this was a very enjoyable theatrical experience. For an amateur company they did amazingly well with the small budget I imagine they had and pulled together a really great cast of actors. The direction by Robert J.Stanex was just right for this musical – subtle where it needed to be and dramatic in other parts where suited.
I would certainly go and watch another Sedos production again and I urge you to catch it whilst you can for its very short run. I left the theatre with a warm heart and feeling very content after watching a beautiful story performed wonderfully.
Review by Jade Louise
Against the backdrop of Civil War, aspiring writer Jo hides from life’s difficulties in her attic and pens stories of adventure.
With her father away, Jo and her sisters must learn to negotiate love, loss and life under the ever-loving watch of their beloved Marmee.
But despite tragedy and heartbreak, the March sisters discover that in reality the true adventure is life itself.
Based loosely on her own life, and her relationship with her family, Louisa May Alcott wrote the books that have inspired millions of children to challenge stereotypes. This much-loved musical adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel is suitable for all the family and reminds us that sometimes when you dream, your dreams come true.
The original Broadway production opened in 2005 with Tony Award winner Sutton Foster as Jo.
Tuesday 27 June to Saturday 1 July 2017
Evenings at 7.30pm, Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
Jo March | Kate Gledhill
Meg March | Emma Coffey
Beth March | Kimberly Barker
Amy March | Lauren Clarke
Marmee | Paula Mount
Aunt March | Annie Houseago
Theodore Laurence III | Nicholas Dore
John Brooke | Toby Churchley
Professor Bhaer | Keith Walters
Grandpa Laurence | Brian Voakes
Director and Designer | Robert J. Stanex
Musical Director | Ryan Macaulay
Creative Producer | Rebecca Chisholm
Technical Producer | Ben Hussey
Costumier | Deborah Lean
Movement Director | Thomas Leonard
Lighting Design | Elske Waite
Set Realisation | Oliver Levett
Visual Artist | Lydia Hughes
Bride Lane, off Fleet Street
London EC4Y 8EQ