Spotlight on...Takapuna Grammar School's Little Women

Spotlight on...Takapuna Grammar School's Little Women

By Matt Heyward on June 07, 2018

Little Women is a musical based on Louisa May Alcott's American classic novel of the same name.  Set in the Civil War, it depicts a story of love and family that stands the test of time.  

Produced nationally and internationally, Little Women has been praised by critics for its ambition in adapting such a well-known story for the stage. This timeless, captivating story is brought to life in this glorious musical filled with personal discovery, heartache, hope and everlasting love. The original production starred the unparalleled Sutton Foster, who received Tony, Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk nominations for her performance.

The Australian premiere in 2008 was directed by Stuart Maunder and starred an incredible line-up of performers including Hayden Tee, Judi Connelli, David Harris, Kate Maree Hoolihan, Stephen Mahy, Trisha Noble, Octavia Barron Martin and Phillip Hinton.

Recently the students at Takapuna Grammar School in Auckland, performed the show to rave reviews.  We chatted to director Robert Dil about why he decided to stage the show and how the students responded to this epic tale.

Robert Dil, Director, Takapuna Grammar School

"It was a tough sell at first for some of my students because they weren't familiar with Little Women -The Broadway Musical created for the stage by Jason Howland (Music), Mindi Dickstein (Lyrics), and Alan Knee (Book). However before one of our recent performances one of my students hugged me and said "Thank you for choosing Little Women. I love it and I will always trust your choice in shows!"

Based on Louisa May Alcott's classic novel, first published in 1868, Little Women tells the story of four sisters, little women to their father who is absent at war and their mother Marmee who raises them alone. Meg the eldest is romantic, Jo the main character of the story is headstrong and idealistic -a powerful feminist of her time, Beth is sweet and kind, the soul of the story, and the youngest Amy is selfish and distracted by the expectations of high society.

This show requires a strong cast of female actors and it showcases each of them through beautiful music which captured all our hearts. The show does centre primarily around Jo and we had two incredible leads to share this role with our double casting -strong young women who really were 'astonishing' like the big closing number of Act 1 suggests. You need strong male actors who sing in the roles of Laurie, the March sisters' free-spirited neighbour, his tutor John Brooke (who marries Meg) and Professor Bhaer who falls for Jo and her freethinking spirit. There are also great opportunities for character actors in the roles of Mr Laurence, Laurie's hardhearted grandfather and Aunt March, the sisters' great-aunt who is so high in society that lowly people have simply disappeared before her eyes.

Musically we performed this incredible ensemble show with just three live musicians -a piano, cello and flute and this was the right delicate combination to accompany our cast in our performance space -just a section of our school hall. You could also go with the full 12 piece orchestration and fill a large theatre venue. This show has heart, a very well told story and music which will stay with you long after the final curtain. As Jo sings 'I may be small but I've got giant plans to shine as brightly as the sun.' This show brings the sunshine."