Review: Artisan Center Theater inspires wholesome family values with LITTLE WOMEN


The Broadway Musical based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott
Book by Allan Knee; Music by Jason Howland; Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein
Directed & Choreographed by Renee Norris
Student Director Paloma Magana 
Produced by Artisan Center Theater, Hurst 
Photos by Chris Gallego Wong

Reviewed by Glynda Welch

Artisan Center Theater’s Second Stage overflows with the energy of the four March sisters, navigating the difficulties of growing up, sibling rivalries, and poverty under the watchful eye of their mother while their father is away fighting for the Union Army during the US Civil War. Jo (Georgia Chaney) chases her dream of becoming a writer. Meg (Sahara Donna) overcomes her social anxiety to find her true love. (Donna is listed as understudy in the program but was as polished as if she had performed the role since opening night.) Sweet Beth (Clare Kernan) charms the crotchety old neighbor and everyone else. Amy (Riley Hilsinger) is the baby sister battling for her own identity. These actresses, and the entire cast, are strong musical performers. Jo’s “The Fire Within Me” is an anthem for anyone determined to focus on their dreams. 

Ondrea Schenck plays Marmee, guiding her daughters with firmness, devotion, and just the right touch of whimsy. Schenck’s “Home Alone” was haunting. David Magana (Mr. Laurence) is excellent as the bitter elderly neighbor who turns out to have a heart of gold. Laurence joins Beth in “Off to Massachusetts.” Laurence’s orphaned grandson Laurie is played sweetly by Patrick Ramsey. Tyler Chamberlain plays John Brooke, Laurie’s tutor. Especially noteworthy is Nancy Bartke in her role of Aunt March, wealthy spinster sister of the girls’ father. Bartke took command of the stage with every entrance. Mark Haley’s Professor Bhaer provides the foil to feisty and independent JoHaley and Chaney grow their characters through the banter. 

Stacey Calvert plays Mrs. Kirk. The ensemble includes Tony Bartke, Jack Horton, Renea Oduor, Summer Lynn, Elizabeth Potts, Kristian Duff, Mason Snyder, and Ruby Magana. The crew includes Ashley Grether (Music Director); Erika Durham (Costume Designer); Stephen Jakubik (Lighting Designer); and Renee Norris (Set Designer).

Little Women continues through July 1st at Artisan Center Theater’s Second Stage. Tickets are available through Artisan or by calling the box office at 817-284-1200. Make plans now to catch this classic novel in musical form.

Audience Rating: G

Running Time: 2 ½ hours including 15 minute intermission

Accessible Seating: Available

Hearing Devices: Not Available

Sensory Friendly Performance: Not Available

Production Sound Level: Comfortable Sound Level

Noises or Visuals to Prepare for: N/A

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Glynda Welch