“I want to do something splendid . . . something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”
— Jo March, in “Little Women”
BY Molly Congdon
CLIFTON PARK — On April 16, the program room of Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library was transformed into a theater for the opening night of the Not So Common Players’ production of “Little Women.”
Before this plot hit the big screen or Broadway, “Little Women” was first a novel by Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888). It describes the life of four sisters — Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March — from childhood to their progression of becoming women. It begins around Christmas during the Civil War; the four girls live with their mother, Marmee, and are facing the holiday without the presence of their father, who is away serving in the military.
It is difficult for those waiting at home for their loved one to return, as worry, despair and loneliness eat at them.
The leading lady of this tale is the unbendable, stubborn and spunky Jo, played by Heather D’Arcy. This is the March sister that many young girls fell in love with before a real-life version paraded and sang in front of us, back when she existed as a picture in the reader’s mind. It’s not because she was the most lovable character — Beth definitely would win that title — but because she inspired us to do more than just accept a provincial life. She was a fearless dreamer full of passion, a person that we all hope to be.
D’Arcy lived up to the hype of this fictional female role model. She showcased a great amount of spirit and in each musical number she demonstrated her strong, powerful voice, one we would imagine Jo March would possess.
The kind, unselfish character of Beth, played by Shenendehowa sophomore Kaeli Heffner, won everyone over. Her voice was sweet, soft and superb, and her final song — a duet with Jo — was captivating and full of emotion.
The chemistry of the cast was excellent. They weren’t simply going through the motions that had been rehearsed; instead, they filled the roles and made them seem as though those characters were their reality. The tenderness they felt for each other was real and apparent, and it was this aspect of the performance that made it magical, almost as though each character jumped right off the pages of the book and onto the stage.
The background to every scene was a collage of pages — put together so precisely that if you glanced quickly you wouldn’t notice Alcott’s text on the sheets. Some were a fresh, crisp white, speckled around those were others that had been yellowed and darkened by time. They served as a constant reminder of the roots of “Little Women,” before it was brought to Broadway, and how much the story has continued to grow and touch our hearts, proving, yet again, the power and permeability of the written word.
“Little Women” made the audience smile, laugh and shed a tear or two. Most importantly, however, it reminded us of home, love and the tender, unbreakable bonds of family.
So I suppose that Alcott’s words ring true: “Women [do] work a great many miracles.”