Christopher Columbus! Little Women the Musical is making a defiant stance on the small, third floor stage of Studio 1398. The recent Broadway musical is put on by Fighting Chance Productions, and revels in the holiday spirit and warmth of family.
Little Women is the beloved story of Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy March as they grow up in Civil War America. A timeless classic, the issues dealt in the musical remain relevant today, especially around the holiday season. Little Women’s powerful score is touching, exhilarating, and imaginative. In the play, Jo March (Julie Casselman) is determined to be a famous writer in order to support her family. Casselman’s Jo is passionate, and is by far the most dynamic character. Her feelings range from anger, desperation to just pure sarcastic. Not only is her acting on par, but her strong voice easily carries Jo’s challenging belting part, particularly shining in “Astonishing” and “The Fire Within Me”. The other sisters, too, have stellar voices. Robin Eder-Warren (Meg), Danielle Melvin (Beth), and Roan Shankaruk (Amy) have an undeniable connection, and the four sisters are a delightful center to the show. Melvin’s pure young voice and charming innocence is perfect for Beth. She brought the opening night audience to tears with “Some Things Are Meant to Be”. In contrast, Kyle Oliver (Laurie) consistently invoked laughter with his catch phrases and exuberance.
Unfortunately, some of the softer voices, though beautiful, were overpowered by the two person band – very strong for such a small space.
Fighting Chance’s production is held at the small Studio 1398 on Granville Island. While the minimal set makes for a more intimate production, the play does want for certain set pieces. Beth’s piano playing behind the sofa was a bit awkward, and the show definitely calls for a fireplace.
Little Women is perfect for the holidays, appropriate and relatable for all. It’s the epitome of a cozy wintertime feeling, and Fighting Chance’s production exceeds expectations. Though they are small, the cast of Little Women is, in a word, astonishing.
Little Women: The Musical runs at Studio 1398 until December 21st. For more information, look here.