Review: Elvis A Musical Revolution at Her Majesty’s Theatre
April 10, 2024
Review: Tina – The Tina Turner Musical at Festival Theatre
May 1, 2024

Review: Little Women the Broadway Musical at Scott Theatre

Elder Conservatorium Music Theatre have done it again, with a superb graduating class production to rival any professional show touring the country.

Little Women, a coming-of-age story written by American novelist Louisa May Alcott, was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. The tale follows the lives of the four March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy – and tells of their passage from childhood to womanhood. Loosely based on the lives of the author and her three sisters, they travel along the novel’s narrative arc, each with their own story, climax and resolution.

An immediate commercial and critical success, the novel addresses the major themes of ‘domesticity, work and true love, all interdependent and each necessary to the achievement of it’s heroine’s individual identity’.

Such its success, Little Women has been adapted into film no less than seven times, multiple stage and television adaptations and this version debuted on Broadway in 2005.

With book by Allan Knee, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein and music by Jason Howland, there is so much to digest, interpret and analyse with this classic piece; the textual and structural references, the representational language, the overarching symbolism, and the functions of the characters, to name but a few. This is why Little Women is a firm favourite of dramaturgs across the world!

Erin James’ direction of this work is exploratory but true to the original principles and that is what makes it so good. Her understanding and staging of this work is exquisite from start to finish.

Lighting designer Chris Snape really understood the assignment – from magnificent hues and dark tones to the streams of radiance spotlighting particular performers.

The tremendous set, designed by State Theatre Company resident Simon Greer was faultless. From its shape, open box ‘wings’, juxtaposition of old and new and words written on the stage like an open book, the ECMT are lucky to have such talent to work with.

Brilliantly directed by Martin Cheney, and cleverly positioned behind the set but still on view were the orchestra featuring some musicians from Adelaide Youth Orchestra.

Kudos to incredible movement choreographer Joseph Simons; graceful, effortless and oh so apt, the performers seamlessly wove through song and movement with ease and simplicity. The ‘An Operatic Tragedy’ scenes are impeccably staged, and the manoeuvring was an absolute highlight!

With the ensemble also acting as prop movers, the set almost becomes another character – chairs are imagined as pianos and tables, people act as trees, a perfectly synchronised draping of fabric and where the segue between scenes becomes an exquisite picture in itself.

The supporting cast are brilliant, including Sascha Debney-Matiszik as Professor Bhaer, Jo’s German language master, Tayla Alexander as the rich, judgemental widowed Aunt March and Brendan Tomlins as the wealthy neighbour Mr Laurence, who becomes a benefactor to the Marches.

Sophie Volp as Marmee March is strong but sensitive, grounded, and tolerant and her rendition of ‘Here Alone’ was mature and touching.

Darcy Wain took the character of Theodore ‘Laurie’ Laurence right off the page in looks and persona and onto the stage with his boyish charm and soaring vocals. Her performance of ‘Take a Chance on Me’ was sensational.

Amy March, the youngest, self-centred, and most vain is portrayed perfectly by Emily Simmons; her physical comedy and lovely stage presence are to be commended.

The sweet, kind, and honest Beth March [played beautifully by Jelena Nicdao] has the most resolve and consideration of all the sisters. Nicdao represented Beth with the utmost purity and her turn in ‘Some Things Are Meant To Be’ drew silent tears from the audience.

Amy McCann embodies the mature, bright, and secure Meg to a tee. A nearly perfect ‘little woman’ in the eyes of the world, she brings a charming detail and sentimentality to the role. Her relationship, and chemistry with Jay Scott’s John Brooke is sincere and pure.

The exceptional Alana Iannace plays the role of the principal protagonist Jo March. Iannace portrays the wilful, creative, fiery, and stubborn young woman just impeccably. Her comedic timing, effortless and superb vocal ability coupled with her power to captivate the audience the entire time make her one to watch.

The vulnerability and strength in Iannace’s voice and behaviour coupled with the symbolic language, carefully crafted by Alcott in content and intent, is to be admired.

This young cast is incredibly talented, and we are lucky to have such a wonderful degree, right here in Adelaide, to foster and develop the musical theatre stars of tomorrow.

4.5 stars


Lia Loves.

Lia Loves
Lia Loves
Theatre. Dance. Culture. Events. Follow her adventures as Adelaide's premier theatre buff, arts contributor, educator and ambassador!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *