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‘Little Women’ offers a big holiday message about family

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By Sara Miller

The holiday season is packed with shows about Christmas. “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol” wrap audiences in the magic of the season, reminding us that the spirit of giving is so important. Perhaps even more important than the spirit of giving is the importance of family. “Little Women: The Musical” is a show that celebrates the strength of familial ties — those with which you are born, and those you choose. The high school company of StageDoor Theatre presents this heartwarming story just in time for your whole family to kick off the holiday season together.

The musical faithfully follows Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel “Little Women.” Based on Alcott’s own family experiences, the story tells of the adventures of Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March as they grow up in Civil War America. The show opens with the girls bemoaning the fact that they won’t have a Christmas because their father has gone off to war.

The characters unfold in songs that touch on each of the sisters’ key character traits: Jo (Austin Johnson) is a displaced tomboy with creative leanings; Meg (Maddie Manser) a responsible romantic; Beth (Mandy Newkirk) a sweet girl who fights an illness and identifies with her sister Jo; and Amy (McAlyn Forbes), a tantrum-prone and spirited girl who travels overseas with Aunt March (Elise Bloom) and finds romance with Jo’s suitor, Laurie (Sam Kassman).

The sisters, clad in period costumes, epitomize the energy and girlish charm of an 1865 family in Concord. The show touches on all of the pivotal moments from Alcott’s novel: Jo’s move to the boardinghouse and interest in Professor Bhaer (Sam Thompson), Meg’s courtship with John Brooke (Andrew Wolberg), and Beth’s untimely demise due to scarlet fever.

Most of the show is grounded in the reality of 1865 Concord during the Civil War. However, the cast also gets to play in the realm of melodrama. In the piece “The Weekly Volcano Press,” the entire cast is portraying one of Jo’s stories about the beautiful Clarissa, who is saved by Rodrigo and has an epic journey with a hag and troll.

“The cast has really risen to the occasion. I sound like a proud papa, but the show has some places in the score with tricky harmonies and some big solos. These young actors are doing a phenomenal job,” says director Jay Lounden.

Audiences can see a preview of the show and the other upcoming StageDoor musicals on Saturday, Dec. 7. The theater will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. that day. Parade attendees can see cast members on the StageDoor float in the parade. Then stop by the theater before or after the parade to see special performances from “Little Women: The Musical,” “Beauty and the Beast Jr.,” and “The Jungle Book Kids” performed by cast members. There will be holiday goodies, warm drinks and free tours of the theater. For more information on “Little Women” or any of StageDoor’s shows, call 303-886-2819 or visit www.stagedoortheatre.org.

Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.