One of the more challenging productions for a high school theater department is the musical; the bigger Broadway-style shows are often a little easier on the ear because there are so many voices, and a little distance from the audience. It's not that students do poorly, but they often do not have enough range and experience to handle all of the songs. Occasionally there is a stellar singer amongst the actors, but seldom across the entire cast. Tonight, along with my younger son, I attended a smaller production of the musical Little Women, based on the Alcott novel (book by Allan Kee, music by Jason Howland, and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein) and directed by Samantha Elkins at A. C. Flora High School in Forest Acres. And despite the challenge before them, the cast did a really wonderful job.
I was truly impressed and entertained. This inaugural performance in their newly created intimate stage space (crafted from the school's theater classroom and declared the Black Box Theater) was simply a delight. I had not read the book nor seen the movie, and I now see why this is such a favored story, especially among girls (although I was aware of the story and surprising knew the basic outline, so perhaps somewhere in my forgettable past I must have come across it in some manner). I even teared up a bit. All the young actors did a credible job. I was particularly impressed with Patrick Rosenfeld, who stole the show when he finally appeared for an extended period and sang "How I Am." I was blown away and immediately sat up in my seat, smiling. John Cooper was energetic and funny as Laurie Laurence. The young ladies who played the March sisters (and, sadly, I am not sure who two of them were, so I won't identify any to be safe) did a nice job in their roles.
No doubt over time the department will smooth out the kinks (perhaps they need a little more room behind the curtains) with practice, and I hope they are encouraged enough by the enthusiastic turnout [I think they may have sold out every night] to continue putting on these smaller productions. There are many good plays requiring smaller casts that are perfect for this setup. I didn't much like sitting on those foldout metal chairs, but that is a minor complaint. Perhaps some temporary risers for the audience might make vision a bit easier for those in the back.
I am certainly looking forward to future shows.