Little Women, the musical returns a-fresh to Theatre Orangeville

November 15, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“It’s important, as a Canadian, I’m very proud. I’ve always wanted to be in this play. That Theatre Orangeville is producing this show with such brilliant writers and composer, it really makes me proud. All our sensibilities are part of the piece,” said Laura Larson.

Ms. Larson is playing the role of Meg in this year’s Theatre Orangeville’s Christmas production of Little Women, opening at the Opera House on November 28 and running until December 22. 

Celebrating 150 years of Louisa May Alcott’s original book’s publication, this is a musical of one year in the lives of the four March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy; their mother Marmee, Aunt Josephine March and the men in their lives: Laurie, his grandfather, Mr. James Laurence and John Brooke. It is a re-write by Nancy Early, who wrote the book (script). Jim Betts is composer and lyricist.

For a brief description: the father of the March family is away as a pastor to the troops in the U.S. Civil War. So, the four sisters and their Marmee, must make do without him. We learn pretty quickly that Marmee is a “free thinker” who believes that the intellect and imagination in girls should be encouraged as much as it is in young men. Their strengths to think and create, to be themselves ranks high on her priorities.

They have a neighbour, a wealthy older person, James Laurence, whose grandson, Theodore – Laurie – comes to live with him. 

Laurie is a young man, not a child, and he is instantly fascinated by the March girls. 

The story is alive with the full range of emotions, as convention argues with free expression and the young women begin to learn the balance. There is tragedy and there is joy; there is fear and there is love – and there is music.

In this interview, to which the Citizen was invited, only the ladies were called, as the rehearsal of the day did not involve the gentlemen. So, we had the chance to sit down with the six actors who hold the female roles of the sisters, their mother and their aunt.

Lorretta Bailey plays the role of Marmee, the girls’ philosophical mother. 

Said Ms. Bailey, “The heart of the story is about the Little Women, as a community of women. (The author) Louisa May Alcott was one of the first feminists. 

“The term Little Women,” she said, “this is their stepping stone into life. This is a play of learning, managing a house without [losing themselves]…the girls are given the right to be themselves.”

Fresh from her success with Theatre Orangeville Young Company as Matilda, now doing the part of Amy, Kiara-Lynn McKenna commented, “I’m short for my age of 12. More than the others, she [Amy] wants to go partying. As much as she doesn’t like Jo, we’re both very artistic.” 

There are some serious crises between these two during the course of the telling.

“Musical theatre is so perfectly suited to this story,” Ms. Larson affirmed. “The music blends. Every song is so justified. Each of the girls has a way of speaking and they also have a way of singing. They are defined female characters. We all have our points. For text and song to compliment each other so well is lovely. And this timeline is so beautiful.”

For Emily Lakasik, as Jo, the famous writer amongst the sisters, her feelings are, “This is the 150th anniversary of this book – this is about love casting out fear. This script highlights – we think we’re helping someone but it’s out of fear – sometimes, we have to let go …”

Alex Ugolini, playing the part of the sensitive Beth, remembered, “when I was reading with my grandmother when I was little. And I loved the story then and I loved it when I read it myself years later. With my grandmother – she loved it too. It appeals to any age.

“Jo and Beth are complete polar opposites. I feel Jo is learning.”

“The sisters are so close. Yet, when I’m looking at them, as Marmee,” Ms. Bailey reflected, “I have to leave them sort it out. Differences are important.”

Great Aunt Josephine March, their wealthy widowed aunt. who appears to disapprove of nearly everything about the March girls is being performed by Mary Pitt.

She reckons that Aunt March has the best interests of the girls at heart when she presses their mother to concern herself a little more with convention – like wearing gloves to an evening with society. She has her wealth to secure her position and that is rarely forgotten. 

She observed, “We all have so much to learn from Beth. Louisa May Alcott was unique – she wanted it to be real and it is real.”

Albeit that we only heard the ladies’ voices, the men are an important part of the piece. Obviously, they bring the other side of the human story, the tenor and baritone to the harmony in the songs, the additional questions that need answers. 

This is a story for everyone and they passed the answers of why we must all come to see this wonderful show:

“It’s a celebration of family.”

“Every person will find themselves in it.”

“It’s a timeless tale.”

“It’s Christmas!”

And from Miss McKenna – “They can find out why I threw Jo’s manuscript in the fire!” 

Little Women opens at Theatre Orangeville on November 28 and runs until December 22. For tickets and the option still available to purchase a three-show subscription, go to the Box Office at 87 Broadway (the Town Hall and Opera House) or the Information Centre on Buena Vista Drive at Highway 10; by telephone 519-942-3423 or online at

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.