Woodrow Wilson High School
A force of female power was displayed in Oakcrest School's charismatic production of Little Women, a classic coming-of-age tale that renders, through touching emotion and lively comedy, the enduring bonds of sisterhood. Based on the book by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women chronicles a tumultuous year in the lives of the March sisters Meg, Amy, Jo, and Beth. In a departure from its original text, the stage adaptation by Kristin Laurence forgoes male characters to focus on the central relationships among the sisters and their rich individual development. The effective characterization and engaging dynamic of the cast, paired with accomplished work in creative areas, were such that the poignant undertones of this well-known text were truly brought to fruition.
At the compelling emotional core of Little Women were the March sisters, whose natural and endearing chemistry imbued scenes of everyday life and life-altering crisis with authenticity. Eldest sisters Meg (Kiley Hatch) and Jo (Jane Kearns) underwent transformative developments as they encountered the social pressures of the Civil War era in which the story took place. Hatch's earnest performance, particularly showcased in an impassioned monologue in the second act of the production, was foiled in a compelling manner by Kearn's ambitious Jo, who she embodied with spry physicality. Devon Bogucki's Amy at times challenged the two's pursuits, while displaying her own growth from immaturity to burgeoning sophistication. The quiet forces of Angela Diaz-Bonilla's Marmee and Lourdes Navarro's Beth effectively balanced the energy of their onstage family members, lending a calm focus to scenes of bustling activity and occasionally sudden conflict.
Much of this conflict came by way of the girls' Aunt March (Eli Crishock), whose frank words of wisdom did much to challenge their values and behaviors. Crishock's blunt delivery of Aunt March's most scathing criticisms were juxtaposed by sensitivity with certain characters, creating a nuanced portrayal nonetheless imbued with excellent comedic moments. As an ally to the four sisters, Meg Hale (playing Hannah, the family's maid) maximized her scenes by committing to strong vocal choices, ensuring that the character's impact on the central family was fully realized.
Oakcrest's wide stage was utilized effectively by an expansive set which, featuring a window seat, piano, fireplace, and window looking out over a winter scene, allowed for the creation of moving stage pictures and dynamic interaction between characters. Though the visibility of the actors was at times hindered by the even level of the stage, crisp and accurate sound work, including off-stage cues and sound effects, ensured that the messages of the plot were not lost. Were it not for their memorable hair and makeup, the scene-stealing turns of Katiebelle Thompson as Aunt Caroll and Grace McGovern as Sallie Moffat, as well as the aging and developments of the main characters as the plot unfolded, would not have been as effectively conveyed.
The cohesive work of the committed cast and crew of Oakcrest School's Little Women demonstrated with aplomb that the tight bonds of family cannot be threatened by the unexpected turmoil of life, in a production that was as authentic as it was entertaining.
Oakton High School
"All of the exciting things in this house seem to happen at once!" exclaims Amy March, and many would be inclined to agree, as life in their household changes in an instant for the March sisters. The trials and tribulations of sisterhood are in full, charming force in Oakcrest School's classic and heartwarming production of "Little Women".
Louisa May Alcott's classic two-part novel, published in 1880, has cemented itself as one of the most beloved books among readers of all ages. It remains popular to this day, via a multitude of adaptations on film, including a 1994 remake starring Winona Ryder, in television serials, and a 2005 Broadway musical.
Adapted for the stage by Kristin Laurence, the dramatized adaptation of "Little Women" chronicles a year in the life of the March women as they grow up on the Massachusetts home front during the Civil War, beginning and ending at Christmas.
Whether their greatest struggle is a poorly brewed cup of tea or a terrifying case of scarlet fever, the March sisters work together through it all. While each of the sisters is written with specific personality traits, the quartet of actresses at Oakcrest deftly manage to not rely on archetypes alone.
Kiley Hatch, as eldest sister Meg, performs with an immense amount of grace. While at first, she longs for a more glamorous life, and puts on mature, motherly airs, Hatch shows growth with incredible vulnerability and strength when tragedy strikes. And when Meg has fallen in love, Hatch's rejection of marrying for wealth came via a powerfully delivered and very satisfying outburst.
As Jo, Jane Kearns finds success in her joyously boisterous character. As the self-proclaimed "man of the house" and an aspiring writer, Kearns creates specific and fully developed relationships with each of her sisters, with heartwarming devotion to her younger sister Beth (Lourdes Navarro). Kearns uses her lanky physicality well for Jo's spirited behavior, especially in her overly-theatrical play-acting and execution of an impromptu cartwheel in her hoop skirt.
Amy, the youngest sister, is played with a perfect pout by Devon Bogucki. Bogucki makes the character a comedic favorite, with her misuse of elegant words to improve her "vocabilary", and delightfully youthful sass and dignity, proving undeterred even after nearly drowning and with her foot stuck in a bucket.
The family's daily lives also feature Meg Hale's Hannah, blending sensible steadfastness and true tenderness for the sisters; and Aunt March, Eli Crishock, performed with caustic energy and unrelenting criticism by
The way that the four sisters banter and bicker comes naturally, going from fighting in one scene to reconciliation seconds later. The sweetest moments of the show are sourced around the reunion of the sisters with their mother Marmee (Angela Diaz-Bonilla): when the women are together, gathering at the piano to sing or running outside in a joyful pack to greet their father when he comes home from the war, their genuine chemistry proves heartwarming and riveting.
The play is made even more immersive by the warmly designed set (Mary Grace Nugent, et al.) of the March's living room. As the central setting to the events of the March sisters' lives, the set features well-designed wallpapers and a snowy picture window perfect for observing neighbors - and for Jo's quick exits, to the dismay of her sisters.
With the charms of family in full force, Oakcrest School's "Little Women" is lifted by the wonderful cast, and a perfect portrayal of the remarkably powerful bond of sisterhood.