people are saying about Little Women!
Lauderdale - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
March 17, 2006
By Jack Zink
The Broadway musical Little Women is carving
a niche for itself on national tour. It is sprinkled
throughout with affecting moments that please,
sadden or tickle the heart. If it were a book,
it might be called a good read.
Of course, it is a book as well. Novelist Louisa
May Alcott's story is based on her own family
of sisters growing up during and shortly after
the American Civil War. Little Women is regarded
as an American classic some 140 years after
it was published. One could say that its transformation
to musical theater by writer Allan Knee, composer
Jason Howland and lyricist Mindi Dickstein is
Tampa - St. Petersburg Times
March 8, 2006
By Marty Clear
TAMPA - Trying to adapt a well-known and almost
universally beloved novel into a Broadway musical
takes some courage. It's an endeavor that's
much more likely to disappoint than to surpass
or even equal expectations.
So even if Little Women were a failure you'd
have to give some props to Allan Knee, who wrote
the book for the musical, and to composer Jason
Howland and lyricist Mindi Dickstein. If nothing
else, they had the nerve to try to adapt Louisa
May Alcott's gentle epic about sisters growing
up in the years after the Civil War.
But when the first-ever tour of Little Women
stopped at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center
on Tuesday evening, the show revealed itself
to be generally successful. It's no triumph
of musical theater, but it's replete with pleasant
and refreshingly melodic songs, excellent stagecraft
and good performances.
Louis - Post-Dispatch
February 23, 2006
By Judith Newmark
Thanks to their vivid personalities and their
devotion to each other, readers could recognize
Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March in any situation.
If they were riding the range, or digging ditches
or flying to the moon, we still would know them
inside-out. The March girls themselves - not
their homey adventures - make Alcott's story
Directed by Susan H. Schulman, a talented cast
delivers each girl in all her familiar vivacity.
Kate Fisher is terrific as Jo, high-spirited
and ambitious; Gwen Hollander is full of charm
as Amy, who longs for the pretty things that
her family lacks. Renee Brna warms the stage
as Meg, the eldest sister, and Autumn Hurlbert
endows fragile Beth with enough strength to
carve out a special niche in the family.
Maureen McGovern stars in this production as
Mrs. March, known to her daughters as Marmee.
But on opening night, she was ill. Her understudy,
Neva Rae Powers, assayed Marmee with generous
demeanor and lovely voice. The appealing sets
and costumes, by Derek McLane and Catherine
Zuber respectively, enhance the illusion that
the "real" Marches stand before us.
The actresses bring such understanding to their
roles, you can't help wondering if they, like
countless American women, loved the book when
they were girls. In the scene at the beach when
Beth tells Jo that she knows she'll never get
well, Hurlbert and Fisher could be dancers,
so precisely do they capture the delicate sorrow
that shades Alcott's best writing. (That chapter
in the book, "Beth's Secret," could
make a stone cry.)
- Star Tribune
By Rohan Preston
Singer Maureen McGovern gets above-the-title
billing for the Broadway musical “Little
Women,” adapted from Louisa May Alcott’s
19th-century novel by composer Jason Howland,
book-writer Allan Knee and librettist Mindi
But if you were to judge only by felicitous
talent, Kate Fisher is the real star of the
show that opened Valentine’s Day at the
Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.
Fisher, who plays Jo, one of the March daughters
coming of age in New England while their father
is off in the Civil War, is a thoroughly beautiful
performer. She carries her character, and this
lightweight, pleasant-enough show, with skill
and a lot of spirit.
While Jo is independent and pants-wearing, her
sisters are pretty much of their period. They
are concerned with marriage and children. Jo
(Aunt March, who wants her to be more feminine,
calls her Josephine) wants to live an adult
life on her own terms -- achieving success as
a writer in an era when people tell her to have
more conventional goals.
Appleton - Post-Crescent
February 8, 2006
By Steven Hyden
Shows don’t get more old-fashioned than
“Little Women,” the Broadway musical
playing at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center
And, no, that is not a bad thing. In the case
of this appealingly low-key charmer, it is quite
Based on the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott,
“Little Women” relies on rich characterization,
witty dialogue and more than a little class
to breathe new life into an oft-told story.
If you like your musicals big, lavish and culled
from oldies radio, “Little Women”
will inevitably feel like an anachronism. But
what’s wrong with an anachronism?
Rather than bowl you over with suspense or melodrama,
“Little Women” rocks you into a
sort of relaxed contentment as you take in the
well-observed details of the world created on
stage. The production’s modest tone and
general good-naturedness can’t help but
eventually win you over.
The most likable part of “Little Women”
is Kate Fisher, who dominates the show as any
actress playing the most outspoken March sister
should. Fisher is first-rate as Jo, proving
herself a skilled comedienne, a gifted singer
and a gorgeous sparkplug of charisma. “Little
Women” loses most of its spirit whenever
she’s not on stage. Fortunately, those
moments are few and far between.
Along with Fisher, the supporting cast is exceedingly
amiable. Louisa Flaningam is a haughty hoot
as Aunt March, and manages to steal almost every
scene she is in. Andrew Varela almost walks
off with the entire show in the last scene as
the lovestruck Professor Bhaer, who, quite understandably,
is romantically flustered by the alluring Jo.
from the Neighborhood’ Wins Grammy Award
New CD Spotlights Rogers’ Prodigious Songwriting
A Portion of Proceeds Benefit Fred Rogers Fund
Los Angeles (February 8th, 2006; 3:00 pm Pacific
from the Neighborhood: The Music of Mister Rogers
has won a Grammy Award, the first time Fred
Rogers has been so honored for his songwriting.
The starry musical tribute to the amazing songwriting
talents of Mister Fred Rogers features an audio
CD and “making of” music DVD featuring
with all of the artists. The Grammy win today
is for Category 18: Best Musical Album for Children,
announced at the pre-telecast awards ceremonies
at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. All of
the award-winners will be announced tonight
Songs from the Neighborhood producer Dennis
Scott was thrilled with the recognition from
the Recording Academy. He says, “I’m
so glad that Fred’s music is getting the
recognition it deserves and that all of the
effort that went into creating this tribute
has been so rewarded. Even if we hadn’t
been honored, it’s enough for me to know
that the Rogers family and his non-profit organization
are so supportive.” Scott’s six
year old son promised his dad that he’d
make a Grammy award for him even if he didn’t
win. “Now, I guess he’ll have to
sculpt an Oscar for me,” he quips.
Joanne Rogers, upon hearing about the award
today, commented, “I love every song on
this recording, and it’s heartwarming
to me that those who worked so hard to present
this tribute to Fred have been deservedly honored
by their peers in the Grammy organization!”
Rogers wrote all of the songs for his television
show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Twelve top artists - who together have earned
more than 70 Grammy and Dove Awards –
translated their love for Mister Rogers by recording
all-new arrangements of Mister Rogers’
songs. The artists include Amy Grant,
BJ Thomas, Bobby Caldwell, CeCe Winans, Crystal
Gayle, Donna Summer, John Pizzarelli, Jon Secada,
Maureen McGovern, Ricky Skaggs, Roberta Flack,
and introducing, Toni Rose. Dennis Scott,
himself a Grammy Award recipient, produced the
album with styles ranging from pop rock to jazz
and bluegrass. The entire ensemble joins together
for the last track, “Thank You for Being
You,” an original song by Dennis Scott.
A portion of proceeds from the sale of Songs
from the Neighborhood will be donated to the
non-profit Fred Rogers Fund, at Family Communications,
Two years after his passing, Fred Rogers remains
an American icon. His pioneering television
show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,”
is still broadcast to millions of homes each
day on most PBS-TV affiliates. The third most
requested item by visitors at the Smithsonian
Institution is Mister Rogers’ red sweater,
hand-knitted by his mom. His show is still the
longest-running program on PBS television. Children
everywhere continue to smile when they hear
Fred sing, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
Fred Rogers’ birthday is March 20th.
The national retail release features a dual
disc digi-pak including an audio CD and DVD,
which is available at retail for a suggested
price of $17.98. Song lyrics, sound samples
and artist information are available at www.songsfromtheneighborhood.com.
was so struck by the simplicity, honesty, sweet
beauty and life-affirming messages of Fred Roger's
songs", Maureen McGovern said when she
heard of the honor. "In recording This
Is Just The Day, I tried to
capture that carefree, why-not-take-a-chance,
joyful spirit that was at the heart of Fred
members, who have come to see our Little
Women Broadway National Tour (parents
and grandparents alike) have told me they remember
Fred very fondly from either their's or their
children's childhoods and have purchased the
CD to pass on the torch to the next generation
in their families.
From The Neighborhood is the dreamchild
of producer, Dennis Scott, who put together
a collection of 13 songs recorded by caring
artists who all share a love and respect for
Fred Rogers and his music. I am proud to be
one of them and thrilled that the project has
been honored with a Grammy."
here if you would like to hear a sample!
Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy grow up charmingly
BY HEDY WEISS
Real people. Finely structured
storytelling. A historical setting. Songs that
reveal character but don't always spell everything
out. No wonder "Little Women," which
opened Tuesday night in a national touring production
at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, will never have
the kind of box-office receipts of that other
Broadway-bred musical about girls, "Wicked."
True, the show is a good 20 minutes
too long. And it can be overly insistent about
the emotional price paid for being an artist
and independent woman. But this musical version
of Louisa May Alcott's quasi-autobiographical
tale of a family of four New England sisters
who come of age during the Civil War -- with
an absent father (off serving as chaplain to
the Union troops) and an overwhelmed, financially
strapped mother left to handle them -- is a
work of quality. And its book (by Allan Knee),
music (by Jason Howland) and lyrics (by Mindi
Dickstein) dare to put complex emotions and
intimate relationships over inflated spectacle.
On one level this is the story
of the genesis of Alcott's book: how the writer
learned to take the stuff of her own life and
shape it into art. But mostly it is about a
group of siblings with very different personalities
and values who are forced to make it through
tough times, and who manage to keep the bond
of family devotion alive. Along the way, their
dreams are tempered, twisted and often realized
in unexpected ways.
Although former pop singer Maureen
McGovern, who plays the girls' mother, Marmee,
is the name above the marquee (and she displays
the necessary vocal gravitas for the role),
it is Kate Fisher -- as Alcott's alter ego,
Jo March -- who drives the show with her galvanic
energy and powerful voice. Jo (who is in nearly
every scene) is the second oldest of the four
sisters, and the rebel -- a young woman ahead
of her time, hellbent on making a name for herself
as a writer. Jo aches for the wider world, for
recognition, for independence, and she shrinks
at the thought of marriage. Though she is pursued
by her preppy neighbor Laurie (Stephen Patterson),
who is enthralled by her headstrong, vivacious
spirit from the start, she must break his heart
in order to be true to herself. Only much later
does she forge a bond with the older, more constrained
German scholar Professor Bhaer (Andrew Varela),
who offers support and a more mature kind of
Jo's older sister Meg (Renee
Brna) is the warm, conventional girl who marries
the dashing and decent Mr. Brooke (Michael Minarik).
Her soul mate, however, is Beth (Autumn Hurlbert)
-- the kind, serene, musical girl with a profound
sense of her own mortality, whose death shatters
As for the youngest sister, Amy
(Gwen Hollander, who undergoes a deftly limned
transformation), she is Jo's nemesis, the one
most acutely aware of the family's lack of money
and most attuned to snobbish upward mobility
and fashion. She also is the sister who wins
the favor of the Marches' well-to-do aunt (a
near Dickensian turn by Louisa Flaningam) and
is taken to Europe -- something Jo had dreamed
of for years.
Only when the actors take their
bows do you realize the show (sensitively directed
by Susan S. Schulman, with many of the trademarks
of her earlier hit "The Secret Garden")
features just 12 performers. Yet they fill the
heart. And Derek McLane's set -- from the vast
wooden attic of the March home to a series of
beautifully painted backdrops of the American
landscape -- fills the eye.
Incidentally, while Mr. March
remains a cipher in the show, you can turn to
a fascinating recent novel, March (Penguin),
by Geraldine Brooks to see just what he was
doing in the war while his "little women"
were growing up.
‘Little Women’ not to be
By ROBERT NESTI
There have been three film versions
of “Little Women,” and an opera;
but, curiously, no musical until last season
when this chamber version arrived on Broadway
for a five-month run. In a season filled with
more high-profile shows (“Spamalot,”
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”), this
handsomely packaged, if earnest adaptation of
Louisa May Alcott’s autobiographical novel
got lost in the shuffle.
But like its spunky heroine,
the show refuses to be dismissed, as its national
tour, which arrived at the Opera House last
The endearing Kate Fisher plays
Jo, the tomboyish writer who dreams of literary
triumphs in 1860s Concord, where she comes of
age with her three sisters. She has a supple
belt put to excellent use in the show’s
first-act finale, “Astonishing,”
and nearly does the impossible task of holding
the overlong show together. Her feisty characterization
is not unlike that of Wynona Ryder (whom she
resembles) in the 1994 film.
Top-billed Maureen McGovern is astonishing as
the March family matriarch, delivering “Days
of Plenty” with gorgeous precision. There
are also appealing performances, most notably
Autumn Hurlbert as the doomed Beth and Gwen
Hollander as the ambitious Amy.
A big moment for ‘Little
By Inside Track
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
The cast of the Broadway in Boston
musical, “Little Women” trekked
out to Concord yesterday afternoon for a private
tour of their production’s original set:
Louisa May Alcott’s historic homestead.
“We’ve just been
weeping all morning,” laughed Maureen
McGovern, who takes on the role of the March
family’s Marmee in the musical. “Being
in these rooms you can feel the walls talking!”
“The Poseidon Adventure”
songstress was accompanied by her cast daughters,
Kate Fisher, who plays spitfire Jo March; Renée
Brna, the eldest March sister, Meg; Gwen Hollander,
who portrays Amy; and Autumn Hurlbert, who stars
as the gentle Beth March. It was the gals’
first visit to Louisa May’s place.
“It’s just so great
to be in such a historic place where so much
is preserved,” gushed Arizona native,
Added Fisher: “It’s
just so overwhelming. I teared up over the prop
box (in Alcott’s room) and over Louisa’s
Bubbling over with fresh ideas,
the ladies agreed that the visit will benefit
to have this experience in the middle of tour,”
chimed in Las Vegas native, Brna. “Because
it actually brings something new. I wish we
could do the whole show in the house!”
But for now, “Little Women,”
which opens tonight will run through Jan. 22
at The Opera House.
Women' casts delights
by Julie York Coppens
Thursday, January 5, 2006
Kate Fisher staggers us in the lead role, capturing
every contradiction in Jo's personality and
bringing extraordinary power to her songs. Whether
lumbering down the stairs in a detested ball
gown or reaching tentatively for the hand offered
by Bhaer in the finale, Fisher makes Jo grow
up, as woman and artist, before our eyes.
And astonishing is the only way to describe
Maureen McGovern's voice. As the iron-willed,
affectionate Marmee, the singer demonstrates
that she's been working hard in the 30-plus
years since "The Morning After." Anyone
who doubts the commitment it takes to maintain
a vocal instrument at this level should consider
how many of McGovern's contemporaries are still
out there doing it. The phenomenon almost justifies
McGovern's top billing and star's curtain call
-- but really, this is Fisher's show.
THE FLINT JOURNAL
Women' passes test as a musical
Friday, December 09, 2005
By Kathleen Kirby
- Louisa May Alcott wrote "Little Women"
in 1869, and it has since become a film, a play
and even an animation. Perhaps then it was inevitable
that this venerable story of four sisters would
finally become a musical. Now playing at the
Fisher Theatre, it is a surprisingly innovative
and fresh version of this endearing tale.
Headliner Maureen McGovern is lovely as Marmee,
mother to the March sisters. Her vocals are
vibrant and powerful, of course, but her calm
strength of character and maternal warmth is
Kate Fisher anchors this production as irrepressible
Jo March. Generally accepted as a representation
of Alcott, Jo was considered rebellious and
even improper in her day. Fisher handles the
character's arrogance, pride and independent
spirit with a fierce energy that is wonderful
So how does it all play out as a musical? Quite
well, actually. Jason Howland's music and Mindi
Dickstein's lyrics blend the story nicely. Often
a song begins so unobtrusively it isn't noticed
at first, but then it seems natural as it evolves
into an expression of thought or emotion.
Allan Knee's script maintains the integrity
of the story with its nuance and subplots. Sisters
Meg (Renee Brna), Beth (Autumn Hurlbert) and
Amy (Gwen Hollander) share their love and exasperation
with Jo. At one point, they all became performers
in Jo's "Operatic Tragedy," much to
the audience delight.
Women" runs the gamut of emotion. There
is the fun of watching Jo buck the system time
after time, the smitten neighbor Laurie (Stephen
Patterson) and pompous Aunt March (Louisa Flaningam).
But there is also the grief attending the death
The sisters' "Five Forever" and Fisher's
"Astonishing" are among our favorite
musical moments, along with McGovern's "Days
of Plenty," sung by Marmee after the death
of her daughter.
This "Little Women" is a winner. It
retains this wonderful story but adds lots of
music and a dance or two - just enough to enchant
yet another, more sophisticated generation.
The post-Broadway tour of the modest musical,
which ran in New York earlier this year, offers
a chance for the whole family to enjoy a classic
Allan Knee has faithfully adapted the story
about a stoic mother and four daughters struggling
to live while the man of the house is away fighting
the Civil War, but the condensation shifts the
focus more to Jo, Alcott’s tomboyish alter
Jason Howland’s tuneful music and Mindi
Dickstein’s simple lyrics serve the story
and characters while evoking a homespun 19th-century
atmosphere that is echoed by Michael Lichtefeld’s
Maureen McGovern, a 1970s pop singer turned
Broadway regular, delivers Days of Plenty with
a soaring dignity and strength that resonates
with the song’s theme of resilience and
hope in the face of tragedy.
Highland students entertain cast of musical
Thursday, December 8, 2005
by SUE HAGAN
Singer Maureen McGovern and other cast members
from the Broadway musical “Little Women”
visited Highland Elementary School last week.
But -- in a reversal of the usual roles -- students
at the West Side School entertained them.
McGovern and the others wiped away sentimental
tears as the third-grade class, led by teacher
Mira Cremeans, sang lyrics from a children's
book that McGovern had adapted to a song he
wrote: “ ... Born in the heart of every
child is the power to change the world. ...”
The tears had not fully dried during the standing
ovation that followed.
... It was incredibly moving,” McGovern
(Highland) is the embodiment of what happens
if you give kids love and respect in the school
environment. ... The feeling is joy and eagerness
to learn,” she said.
Women” was performed at the Palace Theater
last week as part of the “Broadway in
Columbus” series. McGovern, who plays
Marmee, and some of the cast ended up at Highland
because she and the marketing director of Broadway
in Columbus are friends with a Highland mentor,
One conversation led to another, and the troupe
said yes to their visit last Thursday to the
It helped that students there have been reading
and studying the novel by Louisa May Alcott,
upon which the musical is based.
Fourth- and fifth-graders came to the school's
music room last Thursday ready with questions.
Some asked about acting, wondering about being
nervous on stage and preparation for a role.
get really nervous right before we start,”
said Louisa Flaningam, who plays Aunt March.
McGovern, too, admitted to some butterflies
that lead to little mistakes.
aren't always saying the lines exactly right,
I confess,” she said.
She said that learning more about the Alcott
family helped her better understand the book
and the musical.
have a journal that I have put together,”
said McGovern. “It's an exercise I do
that makes me closer to the family.”
Opening up the book, she pointed out pictures
of Alcott, her sisters, her father and mother,
and the men the sisters eventually married.
All were inspiration for the characters in the
book, she said, although the names and some
of the background information changed for the
fictional March family.
father did not go to war, for example,”
said McGovern. “But Louisa herself was
a nurse there.”
The actors also talked about the play and the
I read the script, I saw that it had something
very special to say about people and families,”
said Flaningam. “I wanted to be part of
Although she plays the mother, McGovern said
she identifies most with Jo, the character based
on Alcott herself.
had a dream, and despite all obstacles, she
never gave up,” she said.
a Youngstown native who is best known as a singer
(“The Morning After” from the 1972
movie “The Poseidon Adventure” was
her breakout song), said she knew from the age
of three that she would make that her career.
She did, following that song with a number of
other hits. But more lately, she has starred
in a number of stage productions, including
“The Pirates of Penzance.” All the
actors, including McGovern, said that acting
is hard work, but a dream to them.
worth the hard work,” she said. “Finding
something you love and then doing it the rest
of your life ... well, it's wonderful,”
'Little Women' musical is a charming show for
children and adults
For The Tennessean
sweetness to Little Women — The Broadway
Musical that can't, and shouldn't, be denied.
It offers a strong female role model in Jo March,
whose independence and aspirations have inspired
generations of women since Louisa May Alcott's
novel was published in 1868.
And this national tour also has a captivating
performance by award-winning singer and actress
Is it filled with old-fashioned sentiment like
musicals of another era? Yes, though that's
appropriate for the story and its 1860s setting.
Does it cut out much of the novel's narrative?
Yes, but the show would go far beyond its 2-hour
run time if those cuts weren't made.
In paring the story while retaining its heart,
Allan Knee, Mindi Dickstein and Jason Howland
have crafted a charming piece with appealing
elements for children and adults.
For children, the growing pains of the March
girls and the vivid storytelling that Jo (Kate
Fisher) creates will resonate; for adults, the
nurturing hand of March matriarch Marmee (McGovern)
and the love that blossoms between the extroverted
Jo and the introverted Professor Bhaer (Andrew
Varela) are among the touch points.
Fisher's Jo has the spirit of Katherine Hepburn
and the spunk of June Allyson. She also has
a powerful, versatile singing voice. Varela's
acting and singing are superb, and Louisa Flaningam's
portrayal of the traditionally minded Aunt March
is strong. The rest of the experienced ensemble
is no less enjoyable.
McGovern leaves the greatest impression, though.
Her comforting presence is felt throughout the
show, and her voice in such numbers as the ballad
Days of Plenty retains all the richness
and warmth it had when she propelled The
Morning After to No. 1 on the Billboard
charts and an Oscar for Best Song from The
Poseidon Adventure more than 30 years ago.
Director Susan H. Schulman has paced the show
so Little Women's four-year timespan
doesn't slow to a crawl or speed by in a hurry.
Douglas Coates' musical direction is sure-handed
and energetic, while Michael Lichtefeld's choreography
reminds us of the joyous movement found in Michael
Kidd's work on stage and screen.
Catherine Zuber's costumes are carefully detailed
to fit period and character. Derek McLaane's
combination of wooden platforms and set pieces
provide easy, well-framed scene shifts.
But it's sentiment that ultimately drives Little
Women — The Broadway Musical. Perhaps
in these often cynical times, such sweet-natured
entertainment is timelier than it might initially
With her hearty singing voice and rambunctious
panache, Fisher is a fine embodiment of the
tomboyish dreamer who is a surrogate for Alcott's
own adolescent self. This Jo can take a pratfall,
sulk with flair, be aggressively rude in one
minute and a charismatic charmer the next —
just like the Jo March many of us know and love
from the book.
lovely 'Little Women' soars
October 27, 2005
Strong cast delivers the touring show's beautiful
by Ivan M. Lincoln
Heading into "Little Women"
I remembered a non-musical version of Louisa
May Alcott's beloved story several years ago
— a rather tedious production that seemed
to drag on forever.
This all new musical — despite the 20-minute
delay on opening night — is everything
that show was not. Packed with incredible talent,
a fine script by Allan Knee and an effervescent
score by composer Jason Howland and lyricist
Mindi Dickstein, this one soars.
The music — from lovely ballads to lilting
waltzes to energetic, upbeat tunes — always
seems to fit neatly in the period (from 1863
to 1867). And the songs are performed by a cast
that is as strong musically as the timbers in
the March family's sturdy Concord house.
It's a wonderful house, too, a home filled with
love (OK, and some sibling contention) between
four close-knit sisters and their loving mother,
with occasional visits from a humorously cantankerous
Maureen McGovern is perfectly cast as Marmee,
who holds her struggling family together while
father is away serving as a chaplain during
the Civil War. She has some of the show's most
touching ballads and duets — quietly writing
a letter to her husband while she is "Here
Alone" and longing for "Days
While McGovern is the "name" star
(and she certainly holds her own) this is really
an ensemble piece with plenty of great songs
to go around.
One young actress who is on stage and in the
thick of things 90 percent of the time is Kate
Fisher as Jo, constantly stirring up those old-fashioned,
strait-laced manners with her own brand of feistiness.
She's determined to succeed as a writer —
and Fisher gets some rousing, show-stopping
numbers in the bargain.
Stephen Patterson is the rambunctious Laurie
(actually Theodore Laurence II), impetuous grandson
of the angry old gentleman next door. When he
starts singing you wonder how that giant tenor
voice comes out of that less-than-towering body.
And Jo and Laurie, with their friendly sparring,
lend plenty of energy to the production.
Other standouts are Renée Brna as Meg,
who falls in love with handsome Mr. Brooke (Michael
Minarik); Gwen Hollander as Amy, who hates being
the baby in the family; Autumn Hurlbert as Beth,
Andrew Varela as Professor Bhaer, Robert Stattel
as Mr. Laurence and Louisa Flaningam as Mrs.
Kirk (the show's comic-relief character).
Women" has arrived in Salt Lake City
at the perfect time. While the menfolk are out
stomping about the mountains in search of deer,
their wives and daughters can enjoy 2 1/2 hours
in the Capitol Theatre, relishing the musical
version of the classic novel they've all probably
read from cover to cover.
The 11-member pit orchestra, under the baton
of Douglas Coates, provides just the right musical
underscoring, along with Catherine Zuber's splendid
gowns and Derek McLane's excellent scenery (props
and set pieces glide effortlessly on and off
with nary a hitch).
McGovern is fine in the role, warm, matronly,
modestly wise and glowing with equal parts relish
and concern for the four daughters she's raising
while her husband is off in the Civil War. She
sings beautifully, as does the entire cast,
expressing a lyrical, lonely longing as she
writes him a letter in "Here Alone,"
one of composer Jason Howland's more appealing
songs. Her voice is full and resonant in her
other big number, "Days of Plenty,"
Many of Howland's songs are genuinely sweet
and pleasant, and all are expertly handled by
the strong cast and orchestra under Douglas
Coates' musical direction.
The production looks great in Susan H. Schulman's
reliably fluid and inventive stagings.
Fisher is an attractive Jo, bright, buoyant,
bursting with energy and deeply committed to
both her creative pursuits and her bond with
her sisters. A classic Victorian tomboy, in
Catherine Zuber's luxuriant array of period
costumes, she strides the stage, throws herself
about and plants her feet as if she were half-channeling
Katharine Hepburn and half-auditioning for the
next revival of "Peter Pan."
Renée Brna is a lovely, composed Meg,
the oldest sister, delightfully abashed about
setting off for her first dance party and sweetly
empathetic with Jo. She and Michael Minarik
are particularly appealing in the "More
Than I Am" duet, one of Howland and Dickstein's
two engagingly awkward marriage-proposal songs.
Fisher and Andrew Varela are winningly fumbling-formal
and honey-toned on the other one, "Small
Umbrella in the Rain."
Gwen Hollander is fetchingly uppity, petulant
and, finally, blossoming as the youngest sister
Amy. Autumn Hurlbert is convincingly angelic
as the super-good Beth, the one who dies young,
warbling a sweet "Off to Massachusetts"
parlor song with Robert Stattel, repeating his
Broadway role as the curmudgeonly neighbor she
'Little Women' is no small pleasure
Jim Carnes, Bee Staff Writer
September 30, 2005)
Family joys and family sorrows are at the heart
of "Little Women - The Broadway Musical,"
about the coming of age of aspiring writer Jo
March, her sisters and beloved mother, Marmee.
It's hard to imagine that this affecting tale
could be better told than it is in the new Broadway
Series production, which opened Wednesday at
the Community Center Theater.
Kate Fisher stars as Jo, the would-be writer
who charms her siblings (and apparently most
of the town of Concord, Mass., where they live)
with her blood-and-guts romances, written in
her attic and often performed by her and her
sisters, Beth (Autumn Hurlbert), Meg (Renée
Brna) and Amy (Gwen Hollander). Jo hopes one
day to travel, to meet interesting and important
people and to become a famous author. She will,
in fact, move to New York to pursue her career,
but only after promising her sisters that they
will be "four together forever."
Alas, life isn't always accommodating. Sometimes,
love steps in to expand - and test - the bonds;
sometimes, death is the test.
Stephen Patterson is delightfully comic and
inherently interesting as Laurie, who arrives
as a friend, grows into a potential love interest
for Jo but ultimately is paired with another
sister. Patterson sings very well, particularly
on the sweet "Take a Chance on Me."
This musical (book by Allan Knee, music by Jason
Howland and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein) is based
on the famous novel by Louisa May Alcott, published
in 1868. The play is not Alcott's "Little
Women," but it beats with the same
Episodes of Jo's life are played out in a series
of scenes and vignettes on a constantly changing
stage (beautifully and efficiently designed
by Derek McLane) and against some artfully painted
backdrops that reflect the change of seasons
from winter, when the play begins at Christmas
1863, through the spring of 1867.
There's a war going on in America at the time
of this play, but it goes unmentioned except
as the reason the girls' father is absent and
to draw away Meg's fiancé (Michael Minarik)
in one of the play's finest songs, the lovely
duet "More Than I Am."
It's somewhat surprising that the songs from
"Little Women" are not better-known,
because some of them are exquisite.
If you wonder why this production is promoted
as "starring Maureen McGovern" when
it's clearly Jo's story (and Fisher is perfect
in the lead role), it's not just because McGovern
has the more recognizable name. Her character
adds a dependable center to the story, just
as Marmee centered the girls' lives - and McGovern
gets to sing two of the play's best songs, "Here
Alone" and "Days of Plenty."
These are very good songs, and several members
of the audience were sniffling and wiping away
tears at the conclusion of "Days of
Plenty" on opening night. That's a
song that deserves to be performed more.
Like life, "Little Women"
sometimes rockets between great happiness and
abject sorrow. In one particularly effective
scene, an ecstatic Jo returns to the New York
boardinghouse she's staying in with the news
that she has sold her first story to a publisher.
Her budding relationship (which she, at the
time, seems oblivious to) with Professor Bhaer
(the charming Andrew Varela) sparkles as she
delivers her good news. But the mood is quickly
dashed when a telegram reveals that sister Beth
is quite ill. Just when her career is getting
launched, Jo must return home to be with her
Fisher is excellent in scenes such as this,
torn between shifting emotions but never losing
her footing. Each of the sisters, likewise,
has moments to shine - some comic, some romantic,
all really fine. The scene on the beach at Cape
Cod with Jo and Beth is especially touching.
Their song, "Some Things Are Meant
To Be," is another tearjerker, but
it's wonderfully performed.
Women" opened on Broadway in January
and closed on May 22. It received only one Tony
Award nomination - for the actress who played
Jo. Although it is based upon one of the most
famous novels in American literature, the musical
is hardly known. Perhaps this national tour,
which began in September and will hit 30 cities,
will expose it to a larger audience that will
appreciate its many charms.
There's much to admire about this road show
of the Broadway production. Particularly Maureen
McGovern, who plays the matriarch of the March
family, Marmee. McGovern has a serene presence,
and a voice like very fine crystal. The whole
company, in fact, was in very fine voice. Director
Susan H. Schulman has directed an uncluttered,
Daryl H. Miller
Script and score work together nicely, to distinguish
this umpteenth version of "Little Women"
as a lovely ode to the creative process. As
aspiring writer Jo (Kate Fisher) makes her journey
through privation, loss, solidarity and romance,
she experiences everything keenly. The cumulative
effect: a quiet thrill, and possibly even a
catch in the throat, when she finally realizes
that the greatest truth she can commit to paper
is the story of life among her sisters –
romantic Meg (Renée Brna), selfless Beth
(Autumn Hurlbert) and willful Amy (Gwen Hollander).
Maureen McGovern, one of the Broadway production's
headliners, is a nurturing presence as the mother,
or Marmee, as the girls call her. When the '70s
pop diva turns her rich contralto – a
voice like dark honey – to her two big
ballads, the show hits emotional highs.
Fisher is still more compelling. Looking a bit
like Winona Ryder and sounding a lot like New
York star Sutton Foster, she has fire in her
voice and electricity in her bearing.
The unfussy stagecraft — painterly landscapes,
floating curtains, gliding furniture —
is understated yet artful, proving that modesty
is indeed a virtue.
McGovern (2005 Drama Desk nominee for her Marmee)
keeps a warmly affecting grip on an all-wise,
supermom character, infusing the part with grit
and impressive strength.
When she sings "Here Alone," while
writing a letter to her husband, a soldier in
the Civil War, she powerfully shapes the big
notes and caresses the softer ones. Her other
solo, "Days of Plenty," expressing
maternal grief at the loss of her daughter Beth,
is also deeply felt, and Marmee seems a large,
vital character, much more than the way the
role is written.
by Pam Kragen
The singers are top-notch, the costumes and
sets are gorgeous, the big, 13-member orchestra
plays beautifully, there are a lot of laughs,
and Allan Knee's book is mostly faithful to
Louisa May Alcott's story of the four March
sisters in 1860s New England.
The cast give it their all in the well-sung
production directed by Susan H. Schulman and
choreographed by Michael Lichtefeld. McGovern,
who created the role of Marmee on Broadway,
gets top billing (and final bows) in the touring
production. And though she's only onstage for
a few scenes, she makes a memorable impression
But "Little Women" is focused on the
character of Alcott's literary alter-ego, Jo,
who dreams of becoming a writer and vows never
to marry. She's portrayed here by plucky, energetic
Kate Fisher, who seems to channel actress Winona
Ryder (who portrayed Jo on film in 1994). She's
got a strong, high-ranging soprano voice that's
best heard in the first-act closer "Astonishing."
Tenor Stephen Patterson is a standout as Jo's
neighbor and best friend, Laurie. He's got a
terrific singing voice and a buoyant stage presence
that lifts every scene he's in, and his bubbly
solo "Take a Chance on Me" is a delight.
The musical version of "Little Women"
is worthy of applause. It's an earnest, well-staged
and well-cast adaptation of a classic novel
that deserves a hearing and good audiences.
HOME ON THE ROAD
McGovern unfazed by prospect of ‘Little
Women’ tour that lasts a year
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
FINEBERG | ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK — Maureen McGovern finds
herself happily homeless. The Grammy-nominated
singer — best-known for the song The Morning
After — has placed her Los Angeles home
on the market, given up her New York apartment
and put all her possessions in storage.
For the next year, she is hitting the road.
kind of exciting," said McGovern, 56. "I’m
free as a bird." Until next August, she
will play Marmee in the touring production of
Little Women — taking the musical in which
she starred on Broadway through more than 30
cities, including Columbus (Nov. 29 to Dec.
hardest part is what to leave behind,"
said the self-described pack rat, who has amassed
various collections — including antique
bells — through the years.
time to let go."
As daunting as a year on the road might sound,
McGovern seems unfazed — a quality that
Susan H. Schulman, the director of Little Women
and a friend since 1981, admires.
know, a lot of people just can’t do it,"
Schulman said. "They get out there and
go: ‘Ooh, wait a second. I have to pack
couldn’t do it. I see a suitcase and have
a nervous breakdown; she doesn’t. She
just packs up her stuff, and she goes."
McGovern goes for one good reason: Pretty much
since she was discovered — singing in
a Ramada Inn lounge outside Cleveland —
the road has been her friend.
whole life’s been a tour," she said
with a laugh.
The native of Youngstown came out of the gate
hard: At 23, she was tapped to sing The Morning
After for the disaster flick The Poseidon Adventure.
The soundtrack promptly went gold; the song
won the Academy Award in 1972 and earned her
a Grammy Award nomination for best new artist.
always be remembered for The Morning After.
It’s a great song. . . . I still get letters
from people. They respond to the hopefulness
of the song."
Yet the inspirational lyrics belied her chaotic
life: Her mother was dying of colon cancer;
she was going through a divorce, suing her manager
and struggling with debt.
McGovern soon became a movie-soundtrack darling,
singing another Oscar-winning song — We
May Never Love Like This Again from The Towering
Inferno (1974) — and the nominated Nice
To Be Around from Cinderella Liberty (1973)
and Wherever Love Takes Me from Gold (1974).
She also crooned Can You Read My Mind for the
original Superman movie (1978).
The next year, her Different Worlds became the
theme for the TV sitcom Angie.
Although her successes were impressive on paper,
McGovern thought she lacked control over her
She never got to pick her songs or how they
were sung. Producers were muddling gems with
bizarre orchestrations. Managers were stealing
from her. And she was booked to sing in front
of bored businessmen.
By the late 1970s, she dropped out.
wasn’t going to record again until I could
sing something really from the heart,"
she said. "That was a scary time in the
’70s. I wouldn’t go back there for
McGovern even created an alter ego — Glenda
Schwartz, the name she used when she gave up
the business to work as a secretary in a public-relations
company, fielding calls and making coffee.
go to the south of France; I’d go to the
Philippines, to South America, and be treated
like royalty," she said. "And I’d
come back and be Glenda Schwartz with a typewriter."
Eventually, McGovern returned on her terms.
She made her Broadway debut in 1981, replacing
Linda Ronstadt in The Pirates of Penzance and
quickly followed opposite Raul Julia in Nine
and with Sting in Threepenny Opera.
Her recordings include a range, from Amen! A
Gospel Celebration in 1993 to a luscious collection
of love songs in the 1998 Grammy-nominated The
Pleasure of His Company. She also lent her voice
to the 1995 Winnie the Pooh album, Take My Hand.
Now she’s back on the road, having packed
her two dogs, grabbed a few favorite DVDs and
readied herself to become the matriarch of a
new bunch of singers.
think in life you have to have an overabundance
of hope. And you have to laugh," she said.
"I can think of a gazillion things that
were devastating to me over the years, but when
you look at the world, you have to laugh, you
have to move forward, and you have to give back."
McGOVERN TO STAR IN THE NATIONAL TOUR!
Gentry, Randall Wreghitt and Dani Davis, producers of
Little Women-The Musical, announced today
that recording, concert and theatre star Maureen McGovern,
currently starring in the Broadway production, is set
to reprise her role as Marmee in the show’s upcoming
national tour. The 30-city tour debuts at the Civic
Theatre in San Diego, August 30th through September
4th, 2005 and continues with stops in San Jose, Columbus,
Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale and Washington D.C.’s
Kennedy Center among other cities.
Little Women-The Musical
opened on Broadway on January 23rd at the Virginia
“We are thrilled that the show is going on tour
so soon after its Broadway premiere. We think the positive
audience response the show generates and the well-known
and recognizable title make this a must-see on the road.
When Maureen expressed interest in touring and was available
for the 2005-2006 season, it sealed the deal!”
Little Women-The Musical is
adapted from the Louisa May Alcott classic novel about
the four remarkable March sisters who come of age during
the Civil War era. This timeless tale about the power
of family, friendship and romance is capturing the hearts
of a new generation and captivating audiences of all
Even the critics have taken notice. “The show
is packing in the tweens and telling them in a way that
only a musical can to juts be true to yourself and don’t
let anyone stifle your dream,” said The New York
Times. Time Magazine said “Little
Women has been turned into a musical that
even grownups will like!” And, the New York Sun
raved “It’s a Broadway musical designed
for the whole family!”