Little Women: The Musical kicks off Theatre on the Bay’s 50th season

By UW-Marinette

UW-Marinette’sTheatre on the Bay (TOB) turns 50 this year and will open Season 50 with Little Women: The Musical. Louisa May Alcott’s captivating novel is brought to life in this musical filled with personaldiscovery, heartache, hope and love. Little Women follows the adventures of Jo March, hersisters, family and friends, and their experiences growing up in Civil War America.

Alcott's semi-autobiographical tale of a family of four sisters who come of age in Civil War

Concord, N.H., is an American classic. Their father is absent, serving as a Union Army chaplain, and their overwhelmed, financially strapped mother (“Marmee,” played by Jennifer Rickaby) is left to handle the home front. The musical adaptation features a faithfully adapted book by Allan Knee, Jason Howland’s music and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein.

Little Women tells the origin of Alcott's novel: how Alcott’s surrogate and protagonist Jo March (played by Brittany Welch) learns to artistically reflect on her own life and make it something astonishing for others to experience. But it focuses primarily on a group of sisters with very different personalities and values who endure hard times, while they keep family bonds and their friendships intact.

Jo is the second oldest of the four sisters, and the rebel. Ahead of her time, and frustrated by the constraints placed on her by economics and her gender, Jo is determined to make a name for herself as a writer. She is appalled at the idea that she might be forced to give up independence and recognition simply to marry as others expect of her. Her neighbor Laurie (Chase Grabowski) meets the March family when Jo cuts down a Christmas tree, a Douglas fir belonging to his grandfather. Mr. Laurence (Gary L. Scholtz, Sr.) is none too happy with Jo, but Laurie is enthralled by Jo’s headstrong vivacity and risks his heart to pursue her. However, Jo forges a more mature relationship with a reserved German scholar, Professor Bhaer (Anthony LaMalfa), whom she meets in a New York City boarding house.

Jo's older sister Meg (Leah LaMalfa) is warm and more conventional, and strikes up a love-at-first-sight relationship with Laurie’s tutor, John Brooke (James Porras II). Beth (Catherine Van

Vooren) is kind and musical, with a serene sense of her own mortality. The youngest March sister, Amy (Michaela Kaiser) is Jo's antithesis. She is acutely aware of her family's situation, and of how much she wants the finer things money and status can bring her. She wins the favor of the girls’ well-to-do great-aunt March (Wendy Baron) and goes with aunt March to Europe, something Jo has dreamed about for years.

Little Women’s ensemble includes Carly Beyer, Ashley Burley, Galen Hodlofski, Travis Meyer,

Karah Nelson, Noah Rastall and Amy Roer. Direction and scenic design will be by John Thornberry; choreography by Barbra Alloy; vocal direction by Leah LaMalfa; lighting by Chris Weber, costume design by Annalisa Mines, and sound by Kenan Pulver. Rebecca Stone Thornberry, assistant professor of communications-theatre arts, is the artistic director of Theatre on the Bay.

Tickets are on sale for Little Women: The Musical at ($16 for adults, and $10 for students). Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. on July 21, 22, 23, 29 and 30, and 2 p.m. on July 24 and 31. All seats are reserved through the theatre’s online ticketing system. Season ticket packages are available at a discounted price. Tickets may also be purchased at the theatre box office one hour before each performance. For ticket information, contact Lorena Schwartz at 715-735-4300, ext. 4342, or Pamela Olson at ext. 4354.

In addition to Little Women, Theatre on the Bay Season 50 features Melanie Marnich’s drama These Shining Lives, and Alfred Uhry’s Tony Award-winning comedy The Last Night of Ballyhoo. UW-Marinette Children’s Theatre will offer Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. and Goldilocks andthe Three Little Pigs. Tickets for these shows are available now, and may be purchased individually or as part of a season ticket package.

Other 50th Anniversary events include three one-night-only shows.

50/21: A Gala Musical Revue on Thursday, July 28, 7 p.m. Ticketsare $20 per person and include a gala celebration before the performance.

On Sept. 11, 7:30 p.m., to commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11, Theatre on the Bay will present a staged reading of Anne Nelson’s powerful The Guys, featuring Rebecca Stone Thornberry as Joan, an editor helping Nick, a New York City fire captain (John Thornberry) who write eulogies for the eight men he lost in the World Trade Center attacks.

Following the success and fun of 2013’s live radio presentation of It’s a Wonderful Life, Theatre on the Bay Radio Playhouse will return to the air Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m., with scripts by local playwrights Tristan Schuh and Louis Hansen.

Admission will be free for The Guys on Sept. 11and TOB Radio Playhouse on Dec. 10. Seating will be general admission, with donations accepted at the door.

Theatre on the Bay is located on the UW-Marinette campus, 750 W. Bay Shore St., Marinette.


Brian Becker