‘Little Women’ musical adaptation portrays significance of women’s rights


Brianna Edwards

The “Little Women” cast rehearses their lines during an early practice.

Brianna Edwards, Staff Writer

“Little Women” don’t walk, they March. Taking on modern issues in this musical adaptation of family, love, and sisterhood, the story of the March sisters will take the stage this fall from Oct. 19 through Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. Originally published as a novel in two parts in 1868 and 1869 by Louisa May Alcott, “Little Women” centers on the story of the four March sisters: Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth and their transition from childhood to womanhood during the civil war era. 

While the themes regarding family and sisterhood remain true to the original tale, the musical medium allows for a storytelling structure that differs from the book through song, dance, and even sword fighting. The musical includes a piece titled “The Weekly Volcano Press,” in which Jo sings of the story she wrote and her first sale as an author.

“In terms of the music, I feel like it adds a more surrealist aspect to the show, compared to the book since it stays true to how it’s a period piece,”  senior Hannah Moghaddar, who plays Beth March, said.

Not only are the addition of songs a significant change from the book, certain character traits and plot lines are altered in the musical adaptation. 

“The ending relationships of certain characters are better in the musical,” assistant director senior Lucy Sherrier said. 

In contrast to how the book delves deep into each individual character, the musical adaptation aims to show the audience the overarching bond of all four sisters.

“Marmee, their mother, who is their strong maternal figure, has a couple of songs that really dig deep into your soul, how she is a wise leader for all the sisters and helps guide them through life,” stage manager junior Rory Ketzle said. “So you can still see those characters’ relationships with each other. You just don’t go in depth on their own individual characters as they do in the books.”

In the novel, Jo is the protagonist and second oldest sister with the passion to become a writer. Family is very important to her, so even when she can be quick tempered or impatient, she tries to work through those difficult emotions when interacting with loved ones. 

Meg is the respectful oldest sister who treats her sisters with a mother-like tenderness. Beth is the third oldest and known for being the quiet, virtuous one who has a penchant for playing the piano. 

Last but not least, Amy is the youngest with a love for painting. She often pouts or has temper tantrums- one time throwing Jo’s manuscript into the fire because she was barred from attending the theater-  but matures as the story progresses. 

Although each sister plays an integral role in the story, Jo March is the leading figure as an advocate for women’s rights. Her aspiration to become a writer in a male-dominated profession and her adamancy in remaining unmarried against the societal norms of the time period prove that a successful career can be built without a man by a woman’s side. 

“She’s someone who doesn’t really follow the rules [like] everyone else does; [being] very different from all of her sisters, she wants to be on her own and do her own thing,” senior Ren Lagasse, who plays Jo, said.

Jo’s struggle for social change and the challenging of social norms during a time period when women were constricted to the home represents the possibility that women can deviate from societal expectations.

“These values in the story are really powerful, that even then women have always been worthy and thirsty for more power, and it’s always been something that we’re capable of,” senior Ollie Dietrich who plays the male lead of Laurie Laurence said.

[‘Little Women’ expresses] to people, and specifically women, [that] it’s okay to have drive and go for something.

— Rory Ketzle

Despite being published in the 1800s, the issues regarding feminism and women’s rights still remain on the forefront of current news today. “Little Women” relates to current news regarding women’s rights, especially with recent supreme court rulings and overturning of Roe v. Wade while also expressing the important values of family and sisterhood.

“[‘Little Women’ expresses] to people, and specifically women, [that] it’s okay to have drive and go for something,” Ketzle said. “But it also romanticizes the enjoyment of little things in life and the enjoyment of music and the arts.”