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"Little Women" opens up the Del Rey season

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'Little Women'

Mr. Lawrence (freshman Aian Flaherty) is charmed by Beth (freshman Katie Otter) in the Del Ray Player’s “Little Women: The Musical,” directed by senior theater arts and multimedia arts double major Kate Bianco. The heartwarming show that ushers in a new wave of talent to LMU’s stage. 

"Little Women,” playing this weekend at the Del Rey Theatre, is a fitting production to kick off the Del Rey Players’ new season. Not only is it the season’s first show, but it serves as the LMU stage debut for eight of its ten cast members, and is senior theatre arts and multimedia arts double major Kate Bianco’s first foray into directing a full length production.

A musical version of Louisa May Alcott’s 19th century novel, “Little Women” follows the lives of four sisters—Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy—living in Civil War-era Massachusetts. The lively Jo (played by freshman theatre arts major Haley Skarulis) doesn’t fit in with the enforced gender norms in her sleepy town and dreams of running off to New York to strike it rich as a famous writer. But her love for her sisters—romantic Meg (Thea McKay, junior theatre arts and history double major), sweet Beth (Katie Otter, freshman theatre arts major) and petulant Amy (Isabella Johnson, freshman English major)—keeps her grounded throughout the ups and downs of life as a woman in the 1860s.

The story of “Little Women” is moving, and Bianco’s production is full of heart. The sisters’ performances truly shine in their scenes together, and the actresses bring a lively playfulness to the stage through their musical numbers. McKay’s Meg is dreamy and charming, and the chemistry shared with her on-screen love interest John (Eric Renna, freshman communications studies major) is sweet and believable.

Johnson’s portrayal of Amy—the youngest March sister who constantly struggles with feeling disregarded by her big sister Jo—is energetic and bings great comic timing to the role. Skarulis’ Jo shines in scenes she has with her sister, Beth, and Skarulis and Otter’s rendition of the sweet sister duet “Some Things Are Meant to Be” truly tugs at the audience’s heartstrings.

Senior theatre arts major Delaney Malm brings a fierce warmth to Marmee, the matriarch of the March family. She is equal parts a pillar of strength for her daughters and a heartbroken woman alone in the absence of her husband. Her moments of vulnerability are wonderful to watch.

Even though the play focuses on the women at its center, the male actors in the cast bring solid performances to the stage as well. Freshman theatre arts major Noah Bradley is a charming and lovable Laurie, lighting up every scene he performs in. Senior screenwriting major John Selby plays the cerebral professor Bhaer with adorable authenticity, and his proclamation of love for Jo is heartwarming (not to mention, he manages to sing in a German accent).

Overall, “Little Women” is a production full of hope and warmth and serves as a wonderful welcome to the LMU stage for many of its actors. It runs Oct. 18-20 at 8 p.m. in the Del Rey Theatre. Tickets are available online or at the door.

This is the opinion of Ally Boulas, a senior theatre arts major from Sacramento, California. Tweet comments to @LALoyolan or email comments to jcornblatt@theloyolan.com

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