The North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck raised the curtains last weekend on the new performance of “Little Women — The Musical,” on stage Thursdays through Sundays until October 27. The Independent caught up with the play’s director Jessica Raven.
What was it like directing a musical based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel?
The great thing about this musical is that although it is a modern show (from 2005), it feels like it is from the 19th Century. The composers made sure that the music was representative of that time period, rather than attempting to put a modern spin on it. I knew I would need classical type voices to be able to pull this off. The four sisters especially carry some beautiful harmonies, and listening to their voices blend has been one of my favorite parts of this production.
How would you describe the tone of the play?
Above all else, this show is about Jo’s heart: the fierce love she feels for her family, the respect she demands from those who dare to underestimate her, the drive she feels to debunk what society expects from a woman in her time, and her journey to find her own way to be “astonishing.”
Is there a particular character that you took some creative liberties with?
The relationship between Jo and Professor Bhaer was one of my biggest challenges. This relationship has been a controversial one since the book was published 150 years ago, and getting the audience to root for this couple was essential to the story. I focused on creating chemistry and trust between them throughout the show, and this pays off in the audience reaction to their resolution.
I, personally, have always loved this relationship. Finally, a man changed by a woman, without a demand for her to reciprocate. We don’t see this much in classical or modern musicals. It shows how Alcott was so ahead of her time when writing this novel.
During opening weekend, what elements received the best audience response?
There is one very emotional scene in Act II that I knew the audience would react to. So far, every night you can hear a pin drop in the theater as this scene plays out. It’s so gratifying for me and the actors to feel the audience so captivated by their performances.
Something I did not expect is all the laughter throughout the show. In rehearsal, I hear certain lines so repetitively that I forget how someone would react hearing it for the first time. Laughs, smiles, and moved to tears. I couldn’t ask for better audience reactions so far.
On Thursday, October 17, there will be a free pre-show reception, sponsored by The Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck, at 7 PM to support Community Action Southold Town, at which guests are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items. The show runs through October 27. Purchase tickets at www.nfct.com.