Wednesday 17 November 2021

Little Women - Review

Park Theatre, London


Music by Jason Howland
Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein
Book by Allan Knee
Based on the book by Louisa May Alcott
Directed by Bronagh Lagan

Lydia White

In its UK premiere, Bronagh Lagan’s take on this 2005 Broadway musical makes for a charming night that defines much of what is excellent about London’s fringe theatre. Amidst a show of deliciously high production values (take a bow producer Katy Lipson) Lydia White as Jo leads a company of 11 in bringing Louisa May Alcott’s classic tale to life.

Playing out in the northern USA against the backdrop of the American Civil War, Alcott’s much loved fable speaks of love, dreams, ambition and tragedy mixed in with tenderly observed sibling rivalries and affection.

White has the lion’s share of the numbers and she gives life to storyteller Jo’s fiery arc of independence. Alongside her literary talents are her sister Beth’s musical flair and Amy’s talent for painting, as Meg makes up the quartet of the March sisters. All four young women are perceptively and very well performed, but in a stand out turn for sensitively delivered poignancy laden with highly charged understatement, Anastasia Martin’s Beth is sensational.

Jason Howland’s score may not be the most memorable but Leo Munby (MD and keyboards) together with his four string players perched high aloft the stage produce an exquisite and immaculately rehearsed sound. Credit too to Nik Corrall’s outstanding design and projections, and  Sarah Golding’s choreography, all of which make fine and imaginative work of the Park’s intimate space.

The first act drags a little but in this co-production with Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre the show will hopefully go on to enjoy a longer life on these shores. Fans of both the novel or the musical theatre genre will not be disappointed.

Runs until 19th December
Photo credit: Pamela Raith

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