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.
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.
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.
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.