Feisty females build vibrant lives in ‘Little Women’
The cast of "Little Women -- the Musical" are (clockwise, from left), Christine Morgan as Beth, Johanna Moffitt as Meg, Mary Margaret Roberts as Amy and Molly Kral as Jo.
‘Little Women — The Musical’
James Downing Theatre, Edison Park United Methodist Church, 6740 N. Oliphant Ave., Chicago
1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 16-March 3
$20, $15 for seniors and students
(224) 725-3696; www.jamesdowningtheatre.typepad.com
Updated: February 19, 2013 2:32PM
Corey Mills feels a special connection to “Little Women—The Musical.”
“It’s a story that’s pretty close to my heart,” the director said. “It features strong women and I was raised by my mother and grandmother who, like Jo, went out and did whatever they needed to for the people that they love.”
Mills is directing the story of Jo March, her three sisters and their mother for the James Downing Theatre. The musical by Allen Knee (book), Mindi Dickstein (lyrics) and Jason Howland (music) is an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, which is partially based on her life. It tells how the March women fend for themselves while their father and husband is fighting in the Civil War.
The director noted that the five women at the center of the story are “standouts” for their time.
“They do go after what they want,” said Mills. “They don’t let obstacles get in their way of pursuing what they want to do.”
Molly Kral plays aspiring writer Jo, based on author Alcott. Although Kral hadn’t read the novel before accepting the lead role, she is a long-time fan of the movie and the musical.
Kral joked that Jo is the right role for her because, “I’m a little feisty. I’m a redhead, so that adds to it.”
On a more serious note, she added, “I think Jo has some pretty valuable moments where she speaks her mind because she needs to and that’s something that I admire in people.”
Kral further described Jo as a caring person but noted that she sometimes gets distracted by her own passions.
“She really works to focus that passion and that drive because we can all have dreams and aspirations but we need to figure out a way to be there for others and let them be there for us as well.”
Skokie resident Regina Webster plays two small roles—Jo’s Aunt March and also Mrs. Kirk, Jo’s Irish landlady when she moves to New York.
Webster said that she sees Aunt March as an old school person.
“She’s moneyed but very much stuck in the old ways. I think the show is about the edge between the old and the new. Even Jo wants to keep thing the way they were, with all the girls being together and pledging to be one family. But as we grow, we have to change. We fall in love and other things happen. Aunt March is the symbol of trying to stay in the old ways. She’s sort of an anachronism.”
The performer has a chance to exercise her vocal skills in “Could You?,” Aunt March’s duet with Jo. In that number, Aunt March is trying to cajole Jo into changing her ways so she can take her to Europe because she sees something in Jo.
“Jo is really feisty and Aunt March is really feisty. She wants Jo to kind of carry on her legacy,” Webster said.
The actor is particularly pleased that she is also cast as Mrs. Kirk, even though the landlady only appears in one scene. “I get to play two completely different characters,” she noted. “So I’m having a great old time.”
Director Mills’ favorite song in the show is “The Fire Within Me.”
“During this song, [Jo] grows up and realizes that the dreams in her head are going in a different direction,” he said.
That’s also actor Kral’s favorite number because Jo has to discover whether she is “ready to go out in the world.”