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Saturday, August 05, 2006


I recently reviewed the Los Angeles premiere of Little Women. Check it out... (or see below):

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In an era where there aren't a whole lot of positive role models for young girls, Little Women the musical brings Louisa May Alcott's classic story of the four March sisters to life and a positive role model to look up to.

Starring as the strong, outspoken Jo March, Kate Fisher had big shoes to fill. Sutton Foster who was nominated for a Tony Award for her portrayal of the same character is a favorite among the Broadway crowd. Her stage presence is strong and always charismatic. Though the show on Broadway was rather bland, it was Foster's talent and charisma who seemed to give it an inner spark and an extra ounce of likeability. With that said, Fisher in particular was walking into a big role with potentially high expectations to carry (along with headliner Maureen McGovern) the show. Fisher was a strong Jo who seemed to have even more range and depth of emotion than Foster. Though vocally she wasn't as strong as Foster, Fisher's performance overall was stronger. She seemed to truly embody the non-traditional (in that era), spunky Jo with just enough humor and emotion to be truly captivating. Her performance of "Astonishing" was almost inspiring and her character's sheer determination to follow her dreams is a great role model particularly for young people (or anyone else) who has ever been told "no."

The entire cast was equally strong in their own right, particularly Stephen Patterson who played a very neurotic but likeable Laurie. The rest of the March sisters were decent, but individually didn't give stand-out performances. Together though, the other ladies (Renee Brna as Meg, Gwen Hollander as Amy and Autumn Hurlbert as Beth) had good chemistry and seemed bonded as "sisters" when performing together. Robert Stattel who reprised his Broadway role as Mr. Lawrence played an crusty curmudgeon who only softened after bonding with Beth over a rousing rendition of "Off to Massachusetts". As Professor Bhaer, Andrew Varela played the highly likeable yet somewhat unsure, highly neurotic stable figure in Jo's life.

The highlight of the show came in the heart-wrenching solo sung by Maureen McGovern's character of Marmee in "Days of Plenty" (also reprising her role from Broadway). The show had good rhythm thus far, but McGovern's rendition of the song really caught the attention of her audience, almost bringing them to their feet with applause. "Days of Plenty" in itself is a hard song to hear coming from a mother dealing with loss, yet McGovern sang it with such intensity and raw emotion that it was by far the highlight of the entire show.

It isn't everyday that a touring company exceeds an original Broadway cast in performance value, but in this case, Little Women was stronger, more enjoyable and engaging than it's original. The story is a timeless coming-of-age tale for theatre-goers of all ages.

Little Women appears at the Pantages Theatre (6233 Hollywood Blvd.) in Los Angeles through August 13 (Tuesday-Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.). Tickets available at the Pantages Theatre Box Office, All Ticketmaster Outlets or online at

Note: Special Family offer for Little Women only: Purchase one full price ticket and get two free child tickets (age 6-12). Offer applies to selected seating in all price levels at all performances. Call (213) 365-3500/(714) 740-7878 for more information (not available through Ticketmaster outlet locations).


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