Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 25, 2016

Little Women: The Musical

Exit 7 Players, Ludlow, MA
through November 6, 2016
by Michael J. Moran

Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel “Little Women” tells the story of the four March sisters – Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth – coming of age during and just after the American Civil War in the 1860s. The musical version debuted on Broadway in 2005, and has been a popular choice ever since for college, school, and regional theatres.

The luminous production by Exit 7 Players makes a strong case for the show. The central character is the headstrong tomboy Jo, and 17-year-old Stephani Bauduccio is sensational in the role.  Bauduccio’s kinetic energy and plastic face unerringly convey all of Jo’s shifting emotions as she matures from an adventure-seeking teenager to an insightful young woman on the verge of a successful career three years later as a writer about her beloved family and community. Bauduccio’s lovely singing voice makes her big number, “Astonishing,” a real tour de force. This is a local actress to watch.

The other nine cast members fill out a convincing ensemble, with especially fine musical acting by Janine Flood as the girls’ mother, Marmee, whose rendition of “Here Alone” is heartbreaking; Gavin Kramar as their student neighbor, Laurie, whose “Take a Chance on Me” brims with lovesick enthusiasm; and Jarod Bakum as Professor Bhaer, whose subtly shaded “How I Am” perfectly expresses the gradual opening of this stern academic’s heart to love.

Director Jenn Marshall is also responsible for the nicely varied choreography and the resourceful set design. Judy Hemingway’s appealing costumes are period appropriate. Musical director Dan Monte leads a spirited eight-member band.

Those who frequent community theatre know that each troupe uses every opportunity possible to fundraise; i.e. raffles, homemade refreshment sales, and “telegrams” to actors.. These helpful traditions have not only helped the company to maintain and improve its historic Ludlow theatre, but built them a loyal following.

Musical theatre lovers in the Pioneer Valley are urged not to miss this delightful telling of a timeless tale for all ages.