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ITHACA, NY – Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” makes you feel good, with its warmth, humor and coming-of-age sorrows. The family-friendly musical version presented by Running to Places intensifies those emotions with song and dance, creating a triumph of the heart on stage.
The play runs Aug. 14-16 at Newfield Central School Theatre in Newfield.
“Little Women” is Alcott’s semi-autobiographical story of four sisters whose love stays strong despite their differences, as they struggle to figure out who they are and what they want in life: aspiring writer Jo (Maddie Vandenberg), starry-eyed Meg (Bretana Turkon), hero-worshipping Amy (Ally Mirin), and gentle Beth (Elisheva Glaser).
Their father is away with the Union Army, and their beloved mother Marmee (Caitlin Mallory) struggles to keep the family together, with the help and hindrance of Aunt March (Summer Davis).
Friendship—and romance—flourishes for the sisters, with men like Professor Bhaer (Noah Elman) Laurie (Christian Henry), Mr. Laurence (Malama Sokoni) and John (Will Westlake). And while dreams don’t always turn out, the bonds of family help the sisters stay strong.
“One of the things I love about this show is what an insanely ahead-of-its-time feminist work of literature it is,” says Joey Steinhagen, R2P’s artistic director. “Jo makes all these consequential decisions that upset the apple cart and defy all sorts of conventions, and she’s not the only female force to be reckoned with in this story.”
Music director Jeremy Pletter says the show’s music is something special; he describes composer Jason Howland’s score as “simpler harmonies in a brilliant context.”
The songs are powerfully presented by the all-veteran cast. Two of the leads – Vandenberg and Turkon – have been accepted into prestigious musical theater college programs, demonstrating the extraordinary quality of R2P’s company.
The production is a period piece, with the team of Deb and Jim Drew creating sets and costume designer Lily Westbrook, Costume Shop Manager at Ithaca College, creating costumes, all to evoke Alcott’s 19th century.
The dancing, choreographed by Fatima Sowe, will feature the gracious period dances Alcott herself would have danced – including an enthusiastic polka – as well as some atmospheric ballet.
With the production set for Newfield Central School’s air-conditioned theater, Steinhagen says he is thrilled to be “running” again to a location outside of Ithaca. “One of the reasons R2P exists is to break down barriers that stand to divide us as a community. That’s why we run to places,” he explains.
The show follows on the heels of R2P’s major fundraiser for the year, a GiveGab crowdsourcing campaign to raise the entire donations budget for the 2016 season before fall auditions, as part of the new model that makes participation in R2P completely free.
For more information and to donate to the “With Community & Jazz Hands for All” campaign, go to runningtoplaces.org.
Little Women is sponsored in part by Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics with scholarship support from Rawlings Construction and an anonymous fund at the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, with additional grant support from the Park Foundation and the Howland Foundation at the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County and season-long support from CSP Management.
“Little Women” runs one weekend only: Aug. 14-16, Friday and Saturday at 7 PM, Sunday at 2 PM, Newfield Central School Theatre, 247 Main Street, Newfield.
Fri., Aug. 14 at 7:00 pm
Sat., Aug. 15 at 7:00 pm
Sun., Aug. 16 at 2:00 pm
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