They’ve Done it Again: Little Women Shines at WAHS

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Full, 34-member cast of Little Women: the Broadway Musical at WAHS. Back row standing, from left to right: Lora Clark (Mrs. Kirk), Kathryn Steenburgh (hag), Cecily Wilson (Rodrigo II), Allison Aronson (hag), Ian Murphy (Mr. Laurence), Ainsley Miller (Beth), Baylee Hughes (Jo), Brayden Crickenberger (Prof. Bhaer), Lilly Clark (Amy), Jack Malin (Laurie), Eli Thornton (John Brooke), and maids Molly Carfagno, Becca Wood, and Kylee Hughes. Middle row, sitting on the stage: Casey Lockledge (student director), Kendra Oberg (stage manager), Amber Parker (tech crew), trolls Ella Duncan and Karis Lee (kneeling), Kali Bradley (student director), Casey Leone (troll), Matthew McGharen (Braxton), Maddie Krause (Clarissa), dancers Aneesa Chandra, Hazel Geis, and Emory Hux; Halle Brockett (Aunt March), Elke Beaumont (Marmee), and Sophia Christensen (Meg). Front row, standing on the floor: Jacob Walton (Rodrigo), Turner Monroe (Knight), and dancers Claire McCulloch, Mary Kate Camblos, and Zoey Sauerwein. Photo: Mindy Beaumont.

The prodigious talent and exuberance of the Western Albemarle High School (WAHS) Theatre Ensemble were on full display May 21-22 with a delightful live performance of Little Women: the Broadway Musical to a limited audience with strict social distancing and masks required for both cast and audience.

The March sisters listen as their mother reads a letter from their father, who is serving as an army chaplain during the Civil War in the WAHS Theatre Ensemble’s production of Little Women: the Broadway Musical. From left to right: Sophia Christensen as Meg, Elke Beaumont as Marmee, Ainsley Miller as Beth, Lilly Clark as Amy, and Baylee Hughes as Jo. Excellent enunciation meant that the required masks did not interfere with our understanding of the lyrics and dialogue. Photo: Mindy Beaumont.

Directed by Caitlin Pitts with vocal direction by Elizabeth Vaughan, the student actors’ affecting performance of the Louisa May Alcott classic inspired laughter and tears at once. Backed by an elaborate, flexible set recreating a Victorian living room, garden, and attic in Concord, Massachusetts, the talented cast brought to life the dreams, familial joys, and romantic escapades of the four March sisters, their wise Marmee, and their generous neighbors, the Laurences. Baylee Hughes perfectly captured the irrepressible Jo with her powerful voice and boyish body language.

The March sisters and their “brother” Laurie swear eternal loyalty as they sing “Five Forever.” From left to right: Ainsley Miller as Beth, Sophia Christensen as Meg, Jack Malin as Laurie, Lilly Clark as Amy, and Baylee Hughes as Jo. Photo: Mindy Beaumont.

Ainsley Miller’s sweet singing voice made Beth’s illness with scarlet fever all the more tragic, and their duet “Some Things are Meant to Be” in the second act truly tugged the heart strings. Lilly Clark’s girlish antics endeared us to the artistic Amy. Elke Beaumont’s mature portrayal of Marmee was enhanced by her rich alto voice.

The March family prepares for Amy’s wedding while Jo’s stories come to life as she sings about her budding writing. Photo: Mindy Beaumont.

Junior Jack Malin as Laurie was a real standout with his tender tenor voice and passionate acting, and Brayden Crickenberger sang the role of Professor Bhaer with his usual beauty and grace. Hags, trolls, and swashbucklers recreated Jo’s melodramatic stories and added an element of imagination to the scene. Excellent enunciation meant that the required masks did not interfere with our understanding of the dialogue or lyrics; the recent sound system upgrade enabled by a grant from Arts in Western Albemarle (AWE), plus the expertise of Math teacher Kip Chatterson, helped to ensure first-rate sound production. All in all, the acting and singing were so vivid and convincing that the audience was completely transported by this outstanding production. 

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