Alexandria Area High School Theatre Department will bring a classic American novel Little Women to life in the AAHS Performing Arts Center November 18-21. Based on the beloved novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women follows the March sisters and their journey into adulthood in Civil War-era New England. Imaginative and fiery Jo dreams of being a writer, yet feels tied to her home in Concord, Massachusetts, where her sisters Meg, Beth, and Amy reside. Her great-aunt March promises to take her to Europe, her mother Marmee longs for her father to return from the war, and her friend Laurie wants her to stay in Concord. All the while, her travels are tugging her heart elsewhere. A coming of age story for the whole family with music by Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein, Little Women the Musical is about the power of sisterhood.
AAHS’s production features junior Parker Zwach as Jo. Zwach states, “Playing Jo has been a challenge but an amazing challenge. It pushes me to be wild and loud and not be afraid to just have fun with the character. That’s what I love about playing her . . . she’s determined to be astonishing.” Zwach is among one of the many students director Jessica Chipman has enjoyed building relationships with during this process: “Many theatre practitioners didn’t know what theatre would look like in November 2021, had you asked us in March 2020. I’ve loved returning to working with students in person and growing together. Little Women is such a nostalgic, heart-warming story. It’s going to be really special for the students in this production to kick off the holiday season for our community and its families with their version of this classic story.”
Among the 52 students in the cast, crew, and orchestra is Marnus Combrinck, an exchange student from South Africa, who plays Professor Bhaer, Jo’s confidant and friend. Combrinck has been in one musical before, when he played Joey in Sister Act: “The past few weeks have been a huge eye opener to what a musical can and should be. Our musical back home was much more focused on the music than the acting, but theatre can’t be theatre without nailing down the acting!” Adds Zwach, “What I’ve been enjoying about AAHS theater is how professional it makes you feel . . . it has definitely helped me grow more confident as an actor, because you never feel judged and you know your team is rooting for you.”
Joining Zwach and Combrink in the cast are junior Tai Auran as Laurie, junior Sydnee Byrne as Meg, junior Brynn Kosters as Beth, and sophomore Sailor Peterson as Amy. Sophomore Leah Zenner plays the family matriarch, Marmee. Junior Brandon Ruffcorn plays John Brooke, senior Noah Hubbard plays Mr. Laurence, and senior Jeryn Drewes plays Great Aunt March. Rounding out the cast are sophomore Olivia Reilly, freshman Jordan Van Sciok, and junior Naneisha Vargas. Liz Workman is the student director and Kassidy Huwe and Emmalene Gylsen are stage managers. Joining Chipman on the directing staff is music director Steve Deitz. Jay Chipman is the set designer, Kristen Peterson is the costume designer, Mark Halvorson is the lighting designer, Ray Noble is the sound designer, and Jackson Grove is the choreographer.
Performances of Little Women will be at 7:30pm on November 18, 19, and 20, with 2:00pm matinees on November 20 and 21. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for students and are available at www.alexschools.org or via phone at 320.762.2142. Advance seating is recommended.