Nov 14, 2006

Sister act: LU theatre presents 'Little Women'

by Leslie Hagar

Liberty University’s Theatre Arts Department is helping kick off the Christmas season with the family-friendly musical “Little Women.”

“This show was chosen for Christmas because it is for the entire family. They can come to it as a family celebration,” said Director Linda Nell Cooper.

Given the name of the production, the fact that the cast is mostly comprised of women will not come as a shock. The cast includes Sarah Koster as Jo, Heather Allen as Marmee, Brittany Adkins as Meg, Kayla Powell as Beth and Ashley Wasson as Amy.

“It was easy for me to identify with Jo because she is a strong-willed character, and I tend to be strong-willed,” said Koster, who is a senior. “She is creative in a different way from me but she’s very dramatic in everything. That is great.”

Although this is Koster’s 14th production at Liberty, “Little Women” has been different than the rest. “The responsibility is really scary but great. It’s a well-written musical that had a few holes, but Mrs. Cooper helped fix that, and the music is beautiful,” said Koster.

Do not be deceived by the title – the show is quite demanding. “I don’t rest,” Koster said. “I exit the stage to change clothes, but I don’t have time to sit down.”

Another difficult element to this show is the set of clothes each actor wears. “These aren’t costumes — they are period dresses,” said Daisy Wheeler, the costume manager for “Little Women.” “The girls are wearing petticoats that are heavy, an under-layer skirt and an over-layer skirt. They are dressed as if they are the March family.”

Powell, who is one of the youngest members of the cast, plays Beth, and she found it refreshing to be on stage. “It is a heck of a lot of fun,” Powell said. “But it was hard getting the pacing down with six people on stage. One conversation flows a lot easier.” She had to adjust to talking with multiple performers at the same time.

The actors have spent nearly 100 hours in rehearsals over the past four weeks and have had to juggle school and work as well.

Allen teaches dance classes at Dance Creations in Wyndhurst and is studying for her musical theatre degree, yet she still manages to carry the role of Marmee in “Little Women.” Allen said, “Playing the girls’ mother was easy because I love these girls, so I didn’t have to fake the affection.”

During the opening weekend, the cast was put to the test as their show was entered into a competition known as the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), a competition that “showcases the excellence in college theatre,” as Cooper describes it.

“The audience enjoys the show, but the judges understand what the stage manager is choreographing backstage, what the lighting designer has had to create, (and) what the actors have had to work through,” said Cooper. “The audience may be entertained by a certain actor but may not appreciate the craft of the other actors on stage. The judges understand this.”

Not every show can be entered into KCACTF’s competition, Cooper said. If the show is nominated and makes it into a final competition, the show must travel to where the competition is held.

“We learned with ‘Monte Cristo’ (a musical written and directed by Cooper) that the school can’t afford to send a large cast to compete.”

Students looking for an upbeat and entertaining show should not miss out on “Little Women.” The show runs Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, and 9 at 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 2, 3 and 9.

Contact Leslie Hagar at lahagar@liberty.edu.



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