REVIEW: CCM’s ‘Little Women’ is Big on Talent

CCM's Little Women is a classic story which resonates through the decades. The modern musical is filled with laughs, tears, and hummable tunes which are sure to entertain any theater-goer.

By Lara Gonzalez*

In a world where Broadway is often synonymous with flash and production value, the CCM rendition of Little Women flips this concept on its head. It is all the better for it! This spring’s production of Little Women is presented at Household Books near downtown Cincinnati. That’s right, the performance is in the middle of a bookstore! In this unique presentation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic literary tale, the performance is set “in the round.” Minimal props and costumes, and only a piano (Music Director Julie Spangler) and violin as accompaniment, it showcases the performers.

Director and Cast

Director Vincent DeGeorge has brought together a student cast with talent well beyond its years. The show is double cast. On opening night, Tomi Newman’s portrayal of Jo’s tomboy attitude and impish delivery made instant connection with the audience. Throw on top of that the comedic timing of Ry Dever as Laurie, and Declan Smith as his grandfather, Mr. Laurence, and you have an audience fighting for every character in Alan Knee’s book to succeed. Eliza Levy (Meg, and also Co-choreographer) has a powerhouse of a voice which she uses to bring both laughter and tears through the music and lyrics of Howland and Dickerson.

The Story of CCM’s Little Women

Little Women tells a story of personal discovery, heartache, hope and everlasting love. Based on Louisa May Alcott’s life, it follows the adventures of sisters, Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March. The sisters take us on a journey filled with love, obstacles, and lots of heartwarming camaraderie. The original novel is set around America’s Civil War, but CCM’s presentation is set in current time period–with absent men serving in what could be any modern war. The only cues which bring us out of the 21st century are the complete lack of electronic devices and occasional mention of scarlet fever.

CCM's Little Women at Household Books.
CCM’s ‘Little Women’ at Household Books.

The Creative Team

No modern musical is complete without a little choreography, and once again the CCM team shines. The few chorus numbers feature a full company of book-wielding characters that dance through and around the audience. The books bring sound as well as movement. It is a wonderful reminder that we are viewing a literary adaptation and provides an ironic link to the performance space.

The lighting and sound in CCM’s presentation are very subtle. Sound design and execution in particular is very elegant; all actors are mic’d. The live mix is run through a number of small speakers which are hidden on shelves throughout the bookstore–which immerses the audience in the musical experience and further draws the audience into this intimate musical portrayal. 

CCM's Little Women at Household Books.
CCM’s ‘Little Women’ at Household Books.

Conclusion

CCM’s Little Women is a classic story which resonates through the decades. The modern musical is filled with laughs, tears, and hummable tunes which are sure to entertain any theater-goer. CCM’s bookstore presentation in the round redefines this classic yet again for an evening of artistic fulfillment.

Don’t wait… call the CCM Box Office at (513) 556-4183 to see if you can “book” your ticket to see this intimate portrayal of Little Women today! (There were several no-shows on the night I attended so there could be a chance for walk-ins.) Household Books (the performance venue) is at 2533 Gilbert Ave, Cincinnati, OH.

*Lara Gonzalez has a BA in Music Performance from Case Western Reserve University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. She has performed in community theaters and semi-professional orchestras in Augusta, GA, Aiken, SC, and Cincinnati/Kentucky areas for 25 years. This is her first year with LCT.

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