By Matt Buchanan
Adapted from the novel by Louisa May Alcott
ABOUT THE PLAY
Little Women was developed at The Montgomery Academy and premiered there in 2002. It has since been produced in schools and colleges in several states. The play uses a large ensemble cast, and offers four (or eight) of your best actresses the chance to really shine. (The play is divided into two acts, and can be done with one set of actresses playing the title characters, or with a younger and an older quartet.) In addition to the four girls, there are three principal women, five principal men (one of whom--Laurie--can also be played by two actors), and a dozen or so ensemble roles that can be played by as few as two or three if necessary. Little Women is a story of courage in adversity, and of the triumph of family love. This adaptation sticks very close to the original text, and is especially popular with those who truly love the book. A wonderful night of theatre for the whole family.
The family gathers by the hearth in the Montgomery Academy production.
LITTLE WOMEN tells the much-beloved story of the four March girls, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, as they grow to adulthood in 19th-century New England. At the start of the play, pretty, practical Meg, iconoclastic, headstrong Jo (who is modeled on Alcott herslef), shy, hardworking Beth and spoiled little Amy are faced with the prospect of a dreary Christmas the year their father is away at war. Money is tight, and what they do have the family shares with their even poorer neighbors. But the girls are resourceful, and they can never be really poor when they have each other.
As the year progresses, the girls have many domestic adventures. They meet Laurie, "that Lawrence boy," who lives in the immense house next door. He and his grandfather become good neighbors and friends, and Laurie seems to be falling for Jo. Meanwhile, Jo embarks on a writing career, publishing a story in the local newspaper. The girls all experience social triumphs and disasters as they try to find their place in the world.
Amy writes a letter to her father.
Tragedy strikes the family when Mr. March is struck ill in Washington and Mrs. March must fly to his side. Left to fend for themselves the girls learn much about responsibility. While nursing sick neighbor children, Beth contracts scarlet fever. She recovers, but the disease leaves her permanenty weak. Act one ends with the joyful return of Mr. March, and the surprising engagement of Meg and John Brook, Laurie's tutor. Exactly one year has gone by.
Jo tells Laurie she can't love him.
Act Two opens several years later and covers a much longer time period, as the girls are now grown up. We withness Meg's marriage to John Brook. Jo leaves Concord for New York because she fears Laurie has feeling for her that she can't return. There she meets kindly Professor Bhaer. Amy travels to Europe with Aunt March, where she meets a despondent Laurie, come abroad to drown his sorrows over Jo's rejection.
Jo writes home from New York.
Jo returns home to find Beth dying. When the inevitable happens, a hole is left in the family that can never be filled. But other happinesses are in store. The news of Beth's death, when it reaches them in Europe, brings Amy and Laurie together and allows them to discover feelings other than friendship. They return to Concord as man and wife. It begins to look at if Jo is destined for spinsterhood, but her friend Professor Bhaer pursues her to New England and offers himself to her. The play closes with the whole family together in warmth and love.
Amy and Laurie in Paris.