Little Women is coming to the big stage at Walla Walla University on November 5. It is the first large musical production in 5 years, with a cast of 10 and collaboration between the drama and music departments. The story is old—Louisa May Alcott published the book in 1868—but the musical didn’t open on Broadway until 2005.
“It hits a lot of the highlights of the story, mostly following the character of Jo through all of the different major turning points,” says Director David Crawford, assistant professor of communications. Christine Janis, voice instructor, and Kraig Scott, professor of music, direct the music. Most of the cast members have studied voice with Janis and performed in the WWU select choir, I Cantori, led by Scott.
“These are all people who know how to sing,” he explains. “I'm excited about the musical level of the singing. These are smart students, so their acting is really coming along too.” Scott believes the score, by Jason Howland with lyrics from Mindi Dickstein, will please Broadway fans, describing it as more melodic than Stephen Sondheim and reminiscent of Richard Rodgers.
Staging a production so early in the academic year has presented challenges. The production timeline was condensed from 10 weeks to six, requiring parts to be cast the previous spring and students to practice during the summer. Student instrumentalists are also unavailable, so local professionals will comprise the orchestra.
With the final rehearsals beginning, Crawford hurries from place to place, directing actors and stage hands, moving props and making final adjustments to the set. But he is excited as the show pulls together.
“The students have really been bringing it to the table and are just so talented,” he says during a moments pause, before going back to putting the finishing touches on a performance that promises to be memorable.
Little Women will be performed in Village Hall, 207 S. College Ave., College Place, on the Walla Walla University campus on Nov. 5, 10, and 12 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 6 and 13 at 2 p.m.
Posted Nov. 1, 2016