Park Theatre, London – until 19 December 2021
Louisa May Alcott‘s timeless 1886 classic has earned praise and adoration, especially after the recent film adaptation starring Florence Pugh and Timothée Chalamet, therefore there’s a lot of excitement surrounding the London premiere of the Little Women Musical.
Thankfully, this production, adapted by Allan Knee and directed by Bronagh Lagan, is a completely wholesome treat that is full of youthful energy and is brilliantly loyal to the novel. It’s a tale of life and love, with dramatic ebbs and flows that fit perfectly with musical moments.
The story follows the March sisters, with Jo, the outspoken writer taking us on a whirlwind journey through her life with her other sisters and the people they meet along the way. Everything about the story is intimate and familial and the sleek two-level set and general feeling of the theatre fits it exactly.
Particularly enjoyable are the moments when Jo brings her stories to life, at times cleverly mimicking the actions of various performers and later on with projections.
Whilst most of the music adds emotional depth, there are quite a few songs and at times the dynamic feels somewhat one level. They’re performed admirably but several songs are a bit samey. However, that’s no reflection on the female string quartet who are vivacious from start to finish, nor the cast who are stellar.
Leading the charge is Lydia White as Jo who is entirely excellent. Her voice is clear as ice and her emotional variety and intensity is a dream to watch; she exudes star power from start to finish. As the other sisters Hana Ichijo (Meg), Anastasia Martin (Beth) and Mary Moore (Amy) complement one another as well as having super strong solo moments.
Savannah Stevenson’s voice is stunning as she plays the role of the matriarch Marmee. Stevenson’s vocal technique shinea through as she gives a nuanced and throughly endearing performance. Ryan Bennett as Professor Bhaer is charming as is Sev Keoshgerian who makes Laurie a bumbling, loveable and humourous character. Mention must also go to Lejaun Sheppard who is brilliant as John Brooke.
As a whole this is a wholesome musical that will have you laughing and tearing up. A number of shining performances and a story which highlights the importance of both unity and independence make it a thoroughly enjoyable time. Little Women is a little show with a big heart and hopefully a big future ahead of it!
photo credit: Pamela Raith
‘A completely wholesome treat’: @RewriteThisWeb enjoys the musical March sisters in @LittleWomenLon, directed by @BronaghLagan for @AriaEnts at @ParkTheatre. ★★★★