Learning lessons from Little Women

SRT stages an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s popular novel

(From left, clockwise) The March sisters: Beth (Elizabeth Georgelin), Meg (Jennifer Marchand), Amy (Emily Poole) and Jo (Kelsey Cleave).

(From left, clockwise) The March sisters: Beth (Elizabeth Georgelin), Meg (Jennifer Marchand), Amy (Emily Poole) and Jo (Kelsey Cleave).

Penned by Louisa May Alcott 140 years ago, the message in Little Women might seem dated to modern teenage girls.The March sisters’ journey into adulthood during the Civil War is filled with stuffy formalities – the girls wear period-appropriate long skirts, navigate complicated social mores and remain exceedingly polite throughout.“A change in the time period is always fun,” says Kelsey Cleave, who plays Jo, the high-spirited tomboy who sports a mop of ringlets for the Samuel Robertson Technical School production.Although they never read the much-loved classic before being cast as the March sisters, Cleave and Jennifer Marchand, who plays her older sister, Meg,  believe there’s plenty in this coming-of-age tale that’s still relevant to audiences today.Scott Davidson’s adaptation of Alcott’s novel follows the March family – Meg, Jo, Amy, Beth, their beloved Marmee and father – as they learns to endure both good times and bad. The adaptation skillfully compresses the novel while still including milestones such as Meg’s declaration of independence from the tyranny of Aunt March, Amy’s trip to Europe and even Beth’s death. The play ends with Jo’s realization of her life’s work — the publication of her first novel. “I guess it shows you that no matter what happens, there is always a home you can go back to, that you and family you can count on,” says Cleave.It is a story about family, growing up, love and dealing with loss, with a healthy serving of girl power.It’s telling you to just be who you are, says Marchand, 16.The boys are relegated to the side-lines in this production or  – as Marchand put it – slink around in the background.She and Cleave consider themselves lucky to be born in these modern times, when gender rarely figures in their daily tribulations.“We can do anything men can do these days,” says Marchand.“If not better,” adds Cleave.

Showtime

Little Women runs from Tuesday, March 1 to Friday, March 4 at Samuel Robertson Technical School, 10445 – 245th St., Maple Ridge. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. Tickets are $6 for students and seniors and $8 for adults. Dinner theatre on March 4 features a buffet dinner, followed by dessert and coffee or tea at intermission. All dinner theatre tickets are $20 and must be purchased by March 1. Call Michelle Barichello at 604-466-8409 or email mbarichello@sd42.ca for tickets.

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