I had the fortune of being able to attend the opening night of the University Of Chichester Musical Theatre Performance Company production of Little Women. Based on the well known story by Louisa May Alcott, this musical adaptation was a wondrous spectacle full of heart, song and emotion. The actresses portraying the four March sisters were well cast, and each had a chance to shine. Lucy Counsell, who played the pivotal role of Jo March, repeatedly got the chance to show her versatility as a performer; demonstrating venerability, head strong characteristics and competent singing and dancing ability. The chemistry between her and the rest of the ‘sisters’ was outstanding; allowing for important story moments to land successfully. Praise should also go to Katie Krysa and Maria Papadakis-Kotsovoulou, who portrayed Marmie and Aunt March respectively. Playing an older character is always a difficult thing for a young actress, but they made it believable.
The show was not all about the ‘little women’, the men also had a chance to show their skills. While they were not the main focus of this piece, their more than competent ability helped to drive the plot along nicely. Jack Hallgate‘s performance of Mr Laurence had echoes of Dickens’ Scrooge buried beneath, which added to the character. I also enjoyed Adam Stickler‘s shy but likable turn as Professor Bhaer.
In addition to all of the magnificent cast, I should also congratulate the work of the stage crew and musicians. The backdrop and props were minimal, but just enough to set the scene; the changeover of scenes were flawless. The lighting work was spot on, expertly evolving and changing to create the correct mood for the scene. It also contributed heavily to the emotional aspects of the story, some changes nearly reducing audience members to tears. The music was created by a small orchestra inside the pit just in front of the stage, and was nothing short of outstanding. The complicated musical pieces were delicately handled, and wonderfully produced; well done to all concerned.
Overall, It should be stated that the performers in this production are still at university, but you wouldn’t know it. Aided by a professional crew of professionals from the field, they have pulled off something magnificent. I absolutely adored this production. It was a lot more jaunty and lively than I imagined it being; the mood subtly shifting between happiness and sorrow at several points. The chemistry of the cast was exceptional, especially with some of the complicated choreography that needed to be done. Without giving away anything, it was a real rollercoaster ride of emotions. By the end, I was laughing, crying and applauding the skill of the performance; well done all.
10 / 10
For more information about this production, please see the Regis Centre website.