Little Women on the stage – a Concord Players’ tradition

Julius and Nancy Gluck

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of seeing the Concord Players‘ historic production of Little Women with one of you! Nancy Gluck of the Silver Threads blog along with her lovely husband were spending the weekend in Concord (she is preparing a 5-part series on Louisa May Alcott for her adult education class). We thought it would be most appropriate to meet for the first time while seeing Little Women and we had a wonderful time kabitzing.

Louisa May Alcott and her sister Anna helped found the Concord Players (once known as the Concord Dramatic Union) in 1856; when introducing the play, Michael Govang (John Brooke) referred to Louisa as their “patron saint.”

Bronson Alcott Pratt portraying Mr. March in 1932 in Concord’s production of Little Women.

Since 1932, the Concord Players have staged Little Women every ten years (with the exception of 1942, because of the war). It began in 1932 as a way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Louisa’s birth. Two cast members were direct descendants of Anna – Louisa Alcott Kussin (Meg) and Bronson Alcott Pratt (Father).

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Orchard House as a museum, making this year’s production historic.

A direct descendant of the family was in the ensemble (Louisa Alcott Yamartino) who is co-owner of fritz & gigi, The Children’s Shop in Concord with her sister, Karen. According to the program, “the business is run by a third generation of the family and is celebrating 75 years in business this year.” Louisa is the great, great, granddaughter of Anna.

The play was written by a local, David Fielding Smith, and features Jo acting as both narrator and character. The quick pacing and energetic performances made this play a joy to watch.

Beth and Jo at the seashore.

Casting on the  most part was perfect. Nicole Dunn took the part of Jo and perfectly embodied Jo’s spirit. I truly could feel Jo’s love for her sisters, her buoyancy and joy for life and writing, and the desperation when Amy fell through the ice, and Beth caught scarlet fever. The scene between her and Beth at the seashore brought tears to my eyes.

It is interesting to note that Dunn had never read Little Women although she had seen the 1994 film (read an interview with her here). She was Jo and I will forever think of her whenever I read Little Women.

David N. Rogers took the part of Laurie. I wasn’t quite sure about him until the pivotal scene between Laurie and Jo when Jo tells her boy that she doesn’t love him. Here Rogers shown, exploding with deeply felt passion.

Marmee reads a letter from Father to the girls.

Jan Turnquist, the executive director of Orchard House, revived her role as Marmee. Jan is such an integral part of Louisa’s continuing legacy that it seemed very fitting to have her there as Marmee.

Kimberly Rochette‘s Meg and Amelie Lasker‘s Beth were both perfect. My only disappointment was the choice for Amy (Molly Weinberg) as the portrayal was somewhat two-dimensional. I had a hard time accepting the actress especially when Amy became an adult. There was no chemistry between her and Laurie.

I wish the part of Professor Bhaer had been larger because the actor, Julio Gomez, was terrific. Michael Govang was very good as John Brooke and Marcella Fischer provided comic relief as Aunt March.

Knowing how connected the Concord Players is with town, Louisa’s ancestors and her history made this production extra special.

Nancy secured us seats in the third row giving me a perfect position to capture the play on film. Enjoy the slide show!

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The Concord Players also produced a promotional video with background and scenes:

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7 Replies to “Little Women on the stage – a Concord Players’ tradition”

  1. Thank you, Susan, for bringing it all back to mind. Christmas isn’t Christmas without any presents (as Jo said), and a good performance is not a true pleasure without someone to share it with.

  2. I disagree with your assessment of Molly Weinberg’s portrayal of sister Amy.
    If you were indeed in the third row, you were witness first hand to Molly’s energy and brilliant stage presence.
    If you did not pick up on any “chemistry” or thought that Molly was “two-dimentional,” blame that on the script.
    An actor is only as good as the script lets her be. All of Molly’s lines were spot-on and her enthusiasm for the part of Amy was appreciated by the crowd.
    I guess you and I saw different plays.
    Jack Williams
    Dracut, MA

    1. I agree that the script didn’t help. That’s the danger with the character – it’s very easy to fall into that trap. It turns out that Amy was my favorite character in Little Women because of the woman she grew up to be: gracious, thoughtful, faithful to the little things in life. I thought she and Laurie made a capital match. 🙂

  3. About Amy. I didn’t care for the character much in the book, but I understand her better now that I am older (older than when I first read Little Women). I have just been reading Cornelia Meigs’ Invincible Louisa. Written in the 1930s it is quite perceptive about the characters of Jo and Amy. They were both energetic and ambitious, unlike the more serene Meg and Beth who were contented without public recognition. As girls they clashed because of their similarities. When grown, however, they recognized themselves in each other and proceeded in a spirit of mutual understanding. Amy was better for Laurie than Jo because she was more attuned to accommodating herself of another. Jo, it is true, adapted to Professor Bhaer, but he was older, more of a father figure and less of a playmate.

    1. Great analysis! Invincible Louisa is on my list, I bought a 1950s edition in Concord a while back.

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