Archive for Little Women

La Petite Maison

For a period of no less than four years, a production team has been attempting to create a musical version of one of the best-loved book and television series of all time: Little House on the Prairie . Before the series ran in the mid-1970s to ’80s, it was a collection of successful novels that dramatized the life and times of its author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, who grew up with her family in the wide plains of the South Dakotan frontier during the 1800s.

The musical, which opened at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, appears to have several differences from the tv show. Gone is the fictional town of Walnut Grove and replaced with the original Wilder setting of North Dakota. The role of Harriet Olsen seems to have been altered. She is not the typical, nosy busy body, who always seemed to have a knack for causing trouble (not unlike her daughter, Nellie) portrayed to hilarious delight on screen. However, the stage show does have at least one connection to its television predecessor that you can discover by reading the article here.

Personally, I’m not entirely sure that audiences will be as receptive to the stage show with such a drastic change to one of the television series’ supporting characters. Although the books were written in the 1930s-40s, I often found the role of Mrs. Olsen to be lacking when compared to her on-screen portrayal.

Goodnight Little Womans

Well…. here is my final post on the great experience that began back in late March.  New director, new cast members, new atmosphere, but still great fun.  It is rather strange how intimate I have become with the stage in our little corner of Ohio.  Twice I have been in shows where I end up lying downstage center.  Whether it be sleeping and being pulled into my television or being stabbed in a duel and killed.  During our final performance this afternoon, Marmee suggested that I combine Braxton Prendergast with my favorite character (of course many of you who read my blog know who that is).  As thrilling as that would be, I decided that I better not although it may have drawn an even larger reaction than normal.  The director could not understand why Braxton’s death always drew chuckles from the audience.  As our lighting tech so kindly observed, he does not know me very well, does he.  Actually, I was quite impressed at the amount of time it took to strike the set.  It took less than an hour and a half.  Everyone really pitched in and helped.  So, after that most of the cast and crew went for a final wrap gathering at an area pizza shop and said our final farewells amidst the sadness and joy.   Once again, my sincere thanks and congratulations to everyone involved in this marvelous production.  I found many ways in which to deliver the line “Who are you?” so it would be different each time I said it.  I think I found as many as Jo found to deliver “Christopher Columbus.” Plus, my goals for the show were met.  I believe that the cast worked hard but still enjoyed themselves, and I got to wear pumpkin pants (tights as well, but that was definitely not on my list).

A Small Umbrella In The Rain

A wise man once said that every performance of any show is different every time.  No where was that more prevalent than in tonight’s performance of Little Women.  As I posted earlier, we have been plagued by a leaky ceiling.  It was discovered that this was due to a malfunctioning air conditioner.  During the first act, the a/c was turned off and it was suggested that we speed the action up to accommodate the audience.  At intermission, we had a concession line that featured free cups of water.  The aristocrat Braxton Prendergast was seen behind the counter serving complaining that it was beneath him to serve peasants.  Mrs. Kirk threatened him with bodily harm at least twice.

Apparently, the audience did not mind the drips because the air was turned on again for the second act.  This was perhaps the best the act has run and accepted.  The final duel between Braxton and Rodrigo met with thunderous applause when the villain fell to the ground.  Every time a line was spoken having to do with water, the audience roared in hysterical laughter.  The title of this post is taken from the title of a song that Jo and Prof. Bhear sing at the end of the show.  I thought they would never be heard from all the laughter I thought would come.  However, after a few chuckles, the song went very well as did our 4th of 6 shows.  Maybe tomorrow someone will provide the audience members beneath the drips with small umbrellas of their own.

Ah, yes and a happy birthday to my co-star, Elizabeth.

Half-Time

Now that our run of Little Women is half over, I would like to express my gratitude to EVERYONE involved in the production. I must tell you that I have worked with a cast with a lot of teenagers before and was not at all happy with the result. This production has a cast involving a very professional cast involving performers young and old. The large ensemble included in the production has taken a lot upon themselves. They are responsible for set changes, ushering, concession stand manning, and costume changes. Whenever anything needs to be done, there is at least one hand or voice raised willing to take on the task. Most of the time, these are high school students willing to pitch in and help. It is so great to see these young adults stepping up with maturity.

The entire cast is extremely talented. There are many seasoned veterans on stage as well as many newcomers to our small community theatre. I have been honored to have worked with a lot of the cast on previous occasions so I was familiar with their work. However, those who have never before stepped on stage are every bit as talented and professional as those of us who have been on stage once, twice, or a hundred times before. I believe every member of the cast has a moment on stage when they shine, especially during “The Weekly Volcano Press” ensemble piece. Hopefully, some of the talented newcomers will continue to come out and audition for more shows.

Our pit accompaniment consists of three talented musicians on keyboard. The lead keyboardist is a young lady who was called in about two weeks prior to the start of the run. I was totally amazed that someone could step in and take on such a demanding task. The other two have MAJOR roles (Marmee and Prof. Bhear) on stage and constantly need to remember when they are on, off, and how they need to exit the stage. Do they return to the pit, or do they go backstage?

Our lighting tech also was called in with just a few weeks notice. I am the first to admit that I know very little about the technical aspect of theatre. But he just came in, began fiddling with the lights, asked what was needed and with some finagling managed to add a whole new aspect to the theatrical experiece. All the softs, brights, and every tone in between to add atmosphere and depth to the stage. And his assistant is no slouch either. She does the spot light and so much more. Noticing the most minute details and making sure to tell someone when it needs attention.

Finally, the glue that holds all productions together (or tries to): the director. He has been totally professional since day one. Pushing us when needed (sometimes literally) and knowing when to relax. Being involved in the theatre for 25 years, I am sure he knows when to do both.

So, here is hoping that next weekend’s performances bring as much fun, excitement, and sense of accomplishment as the first one did. Although, this afternoon’s matinee proved to be full of technical “gremlins.” 😀 THANKS EVERYONE!!!!

Another Opening Another Show

This evening being opening night for Little Women, you never know what kind of crowd you will get: the size of the audience as well as their reactions can be varied. Let us just say that we could not have a better crowd than we had tonight. However, it did not sound like it when we first got to the theatre. During our pre-show warmup and pep rally, we were told we had a total of 30 audience members. wow-wee. By the time we were finished with our warmup, the number had increased to over 50. At 7:50, people were still coming in off the street. We had already filled every seat in the house (just over 80) and the rest of the chairs were at our neighboring theatre. If we had had the opportunity to bring additional chairs, it would have been even more difficult for performers to make some of their entrances (including yours truly) because they come through the side aisles.

The size of the audience was phenomenal but the response from the people during the show was spectacular. Loud laughter, applause, everything one hopes for from a great audience was present. Following the performance, the patrons came down to the basement to congratulate the wonderful cast and to share in the celebration of our director’s 25 years in theatre.

With any luck, the remaining 5 performances will have audiences like tonight or maybe even better. Of course, you have to watch out for those Sunday matinee groups…. full of blue-haired ladies just coming from lunch after church who are ready for a nap. Sometimes you can hear a pin drop in the audience during a Sunday afternoon performance. We will have to wait and see. But what a great way to start the run. 😀

So, if you are planning on attending one of the remaining performances, I urge you to call now and make reservations while you can.

From Stage To Screen

Last night’s final dress rehearsal contained a small, intimate audience including two of my best friends who really enjoyed the performance (even if I am killed by a girl… not my fault that is how it is written). But I was really pleased with the entire evening. The length of the performance actually was about 10-15 minutes shorter than what we had been anticipating most of the week. I even got a crash course in spotlight use to substitute for the irreplaceable light woman who was still ill.

Today, while sitting at my brother’s house waiting for a package that was to be delivered, I found the 1994 movie version of Little Women on television. Like most works that have more than one form, there were some differences between the stage and movie versions. I believe that both versions contain at heart the same theme: Do not be afraid to be true to yourself. Do not allow society to impact that which you truly feel you are meant to do.

I also was able to dig deeper into some of the characters while watching the movie. I often wondered why Grandfather Lawrence (John Neville) was at first portrayed as a crotchety old man and then have a change of heart by his interactions with Beth. Like Captain Von Trapp in the Sound of Music, Mr. Lawrence lost someone close to him which left an emptiness. Hearing Beth (Claire Danes) play the piano filled that void, lifted his spirits, and melted his heart… AWWWWW.

Mr. Lawrence’s grandson Laurie (Christian Bale) is also given more depth in the movie. After his marriage proposal to Jo (Winona Ryder) is rejected, Laurie runs off to Europe and becomes a womanizing drunk until he encounters Amy (Kirsten Dunst) painting at school. At first, I believe that Laurie was in love with the idea of becoming a true member of the March family. However, I do believe that through the courtship he did fall in love with Amy.

Nowhere is the central core of both pieces more substantial than in Jo’s venture from Concord to New York where she meets Professor Bhear (Gabriel Byrne). Although they are both headstrong and stubborn, the professor encourages Jo to write that which is pleasing to her and not to the publishers who keep rejecting her stories. This path may not lead to a great financial career but will in time please her on a personal level.

Another important part of both versions are the wild, imaginative plays the girls perform. In a scene from the movie, Meg attends a party given in honor of Annie Moffett’s coming of age. Annie decides to turn Meg into something she is not and Meg foolishly agrees to “play” along by wearing a corset showing off her figure, and experimenting with drinking (Trini Alvarado). Laurie catches her and she immediately hides in a corner, full of shame.

So while both versions are basically true to each other, there are moments in each which enhance both.

Sign Up With Blockbuster, Get 50% Off First Month.

A Tragedy of Operatic Proportions

Yes, tonight was our final rehearsal for Little Women before we have an audience and any audience expects to be entertained and tonight while still good also had a few pitfalls. Huge gaps where a character forgot her entrances, fumbling backstage to move sets and props into place. Just little things that can and frequently do cause an audience to become distracted and lose interest. But overall, these were only minor things (admittedly the person who forgot her entrances was not so minor but I am sure that her professionalism will return and will be fine).

Also missing tonight was our assistant lighting person. When I returned from practice, I had a message informing me that Carol was really sick so I immediately called and talked to her daughter. I was really concerned because Carol is always so dependable (as well as a fun member of our game night gang who played my mother in our recent Murder Mystery night) and I was hoping most of the evening that nothing was seriously wrong. Thankfully, she was feeling better by the time I had called. This was on her birthday of all things to boot. So Happy Birthday Carol and I hope you feel much better 😀 . And see you tomorrow night. I will also have to attend some of the Summer City Band concerts on Wednesday nights through the summer as Megan plays the trumpet in the band. She should have told me sooner. I started playing trumpet in 5th grade and by the time I was in high school moved to the tuba (many tales about Susie and I 😀 ) with some gentle nudging from a certain high school band director.

I almost forgot to mention that a certain well-admired writer from a newspaper was in attendance.  Not to review as some feared, just to flash his camera and leave.  Hopefully, he does not bring his book Friday night and have it out before the first scene is over.

Astonishing

Tonight is our final run through of Little Women before we have an actual audience. Last night, the director wanted us to have a night to relax and get some much needed sleep… so we pretty well had a walk-through of the first act and the first scene of the second. The whole production is phenomenal from the period costumes and set to the lighting design (thank you again justj), to the excellent cast (every performer on stage brings life to their character). We even have two members of the cast who double as musicians in our small orchestra pit. That takes and extreme amount of talent especially when the main musician jumped on board about two weeks ago and is just going to be a freshman in college in the fall.

Following our rough rehearsal of a week ago, I must say that everyone involved has kicked it up at least 10 notches and everything has fallen into place. I have been asked if I was going to be in another local groups production of The Music Man later this summer. In deciding between the two, I decided to audition for Little Woman and see what happened. I am much more familiar with The Music Man but said this is something I had never heard before… is that a good thing… going with something new and little known instead of going with the traditional? Do casting directors judge by how many big name shows you have been in or look for the unusual? But, I can honestly say that Little Women has been an absolute thrill to be part of. And anyone who lives in or near our little rural Northwest Ohio vicinity should check out the website for the Williams County Community Theatre and come and see this spectacular show. It is definitely one NOT TO BE MISSED.

Putting It Together (OOPS…Wrong Show)

Well with less than a week before opening night of Little Women, I must say it has come a very long way even in just the last two rehearsals. Thursday night’s practice did not go well at all (but I have been involved in worse. As our director stated today, it was indeed time for a wake up call. The cast is all wonderful and very professional, but in my opinion the time has come for the jitters to start in for everyone and just need to be reminded that the hard part is over and the fun can begin. We are all ready but it is not time to take that preparedness and have fun, relax, and just do it. This afternoon was actually the first time we had everything in place (cast, musicians, props, set placement, and everything else involved in a theatrical production… including lighting… THANKS justj and Carol). The first act took an hour-and-a-half to complete and the second act just under that. Although I have never seen a production of this show, from reading the script, sitting in rehearsals, etc. I do not see how it can possibly be much shorter. There is very little in set changing so nothing to be done there. But with repetition over the next 3 evenings (we do have an audience on Thursday night for final dress) it will all come together. My big faux pas occurred when Mr. B came and actually PUSHED me downstage to be where I was supposed to be during one of my brilliant scenes, but he did mention that he cracked up at my final stage position (but I will not give that away for those who do not know). I will not forget where I am supposed to be from now on. Nor will I comment on my costume for the show that is a return to some costuming I have undertaken in past productions (and it does need to be altered not the least for a draft I felt). But I do get to play an evil villain 😀 which everyone so loves to hate but am “so good at” (and the last three are NOT my words).
Little Women (Collector’s Edition)

Morat Meets The Little Womans

HELLO EVERY PEOPLE!!! Today after a seeing strange man person at work at food store, I a go to the Mount plier to see some Little Womans at their practice. I a also meet a strange person called a Braxton Prendergast who is a just a evil man. He a has a very evil laugh and a evil sounding voice. He is a very evil man altogether. He a tell me he come from a very rich family from Hungry country. A country of Hungry? They have a no food? I so sorry; Braxaton must have a stolen all the food from the country and a make every people hungry, yes? I a not know.

I a also make acquaintance of a Professor Bhaer. He a very strange also. He a supposed to a come from land of Germs. He a supposed to have a Germ Man accent. He instead had a Irich broke. Some person a tell Professor man that he not like the Irich accent. Morat, he a say Liswathistani accent but no. Mr. B he say no Liswathistani accent. Wooly Sheep… excuse please.

Then a come part for evil man person. Mr. B he a say that Braxton was a very melomandactic… OH I A NOT KNOW THE WORD (melodramatic Morat.. JS). He a must know that other man I know I a met long time ago…. Dirt Sneak? Is a dat his name (Dirk Sneath, Morat…. his name is Dirk Sneath….AHHHHHH). But lady in audience who I know say Braxton was very bad, too (that would be Carol, Morat). I a tell you this man person is very strange, he a keep yelling at me. So I a say good night every people and lots of a gefilte fishes for all!!!

« Previous entries