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Little Women | Fox Theatre

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I often found myself wondering what I was going to have for dinner as the songs played out on stage.

 

Music by Jason Howland
Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein
Directed by Susan H. Schulman
Through March 5, 2006

Little Women, the musical version of the timeless story of the March Sisters—Jo, Beth, Meg, and Amy—has made its way onto the stage of the Fabulous Fox Theatre. The heartwarming story is a study in family dynamics set in the late 1800s. Jo (Kate Fisher), the second oldest sister, is a writer with a penchant to write about the darker side of love affairs, while the rest of the March clan—headed up by a strong matriarch, Marmee (Neva Rae Powers)—are just looking to take their place in society. While Jo fights for her independence as a woman and a writer, the rest of the women are more concerned about who they will take for a husband, and learning about the finer things in life. As the family deals with tragedy and heartbreak, Jo ultimately discovers her path in life.

Let me be honest up front: This was not my favorite production of the Fox’s season. Despite the story being treasured by little girls—and some boys—since the book’s inception, the play’s predictable storyline mixed with forgettable musical numbers made for a long night. Fisher did turn in an impressive performance as the second oldest March sister, but one solid performance does not a winning show make.

Perhaps it was the letdown of learning that Maureen McGovern was not going to be included in the cast on opening night that tainted my enthusiasm just a smidge. Powers did a decent job in delivering her vocals, but her performance—along with the rest of the cast—seemed safe and bland.

One highlight of the cast was Louisa Flaningam in the role of Aunt March. Flaningam’s comedic performance as the unyielding, stoic aunt was a breath of fresh air, but she may have played the role a bit over the top, giving her role an inappropriately campy tone. That said, I still enjoyed her performance because, rather than just get through her lines, Flaningam actually gave her role a healthy sense of character and feeling.

The musical portion of the show was another component that failed to hold my attention. The bulk of the songs were too generic to add any flavor to the show. Despite one or two of the songs (“Astonishing” and “Days of Plenty”) that actually did impress me, I often found myself wondering what I was going to have for dinner as the other songs played out on stage.

Aesthetically, the show succeeded with gorgeous costumes and clever set changes, but once again, these minor successes seemed insignificant as the overall production was lacking the necessary components to impress this jaded reviewer.

The good news is that this production could be the most family-friendly show of the Fox’s 2005–2006 season. The bad news is that this production could be the most family-friendly show of the Fox’s 2005–2006 season.

The Fabulous Fox Theatre continues Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein’s Little Women through March 5 at the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Blvd., St. Louis). Performances are Tues.–Sat. at 8 p.m.; Thurs., March 2 at 1 p.m.; and Sat. & Sun. at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 to $58, available at the box office or at any MetroTix outlet (by phone at 314-534-1111 or online). For more information, visit http://www.fabulousfox.com/.
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