Little Women, the current musical at Creative Ministries Performing Arts Center (CM PAC), is indeed a pleasant production. This incarnation, directed by Ronald R. Green III, who also does sets and costumes, runs through March 10th at the Oakdale venue and boasts a very talented cast of 10.
The coming of age story, based on the classic semi-autobiographical novel by Louisa May Alcott, follows the March sisters beginning in their teen years going all the way up until they are married and starting families. Ms. Alcott wrote this story based on her experiences with her sisters.
Set in the civil war era, the story centers on Jo March, an aspiring writer and the second-oldest of the four March sisters. Emily Dowdell wonderfully portrays Jo who is also a tomboy as indicated on the pants and masculine looking vests she wore throughout the show. She is bold, opinionated, ambitious, and cares very deeply about her family. Additionally, Jo has a hot temper which often caught her in fights with her family and professor. An audience favorite was Ms. Dowdell's beautiful rendition of "Astonishing" at the end of first act.
Erica Dollin portrays Meg March, the eldest of the Match sisters. As the oldest, Meg referees her younger sisters' quarrels. Meg marries John Brooke, portrayed by Allen Davidson, and they start a family. As they grow older, she seems to be more of Jo's opposite becoming more of a strict family woman, deterring from her sisters, and lacks a strong female identity. While she had beautiful voice, it seemed hard to hear her at times.
The most selfless of the March sisters was Beth, portrayed by Carolyn Cavanaugh. Beth is shy and musical, and always seems to put her sister's first. She's especially close to Jo who was by her side when she took ill. There was practically not a dry eye in the house to her reaction when a mean Mr. Laurence, the March's neighbor portrayed by John Steele, gave Beth his deceased daughter's beloved piano. As Beth saw everyone beginning careers and families and leaving the house, she decided to stay close to Marmee, the matriarch of the March's, portrayed by was the brilliant Mary Ellin Kurtz.
Amy March, the youngest of the March sister's was portrayed by CM vet Kristen Digilio. It was great to see Ms. Digilio in a dramatic role as comedy is forte'. Amy is interested in art and the finer things in life. Her Aunt even takes her to Europe, a "must do" in high society at the time. She gave a beautiful performance of "The Most Amazing Thing" in the second act with Jeremy Hudson who portrayed Theodore "Laurie" Laurence.
This charming incarnation of the musical Little Women will make for a great evening of theatre. Is this particular production the strongest? There will probably be stronger, but the beautifully talented cast will make you very glad you've seen this story.
Little Women is presented by CM PAC of Oakdale, Long Island, running through March 10th. Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, Directed, Sets, and Costumes by Ronald R. Green III, Sound Design by Don Hanna, Lighting Design by Joseph Naftal, Musical Direction by Christopher Mckee, Stage Manger is Gail Keiser. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 218-2810 or visit cmpac.com.
Photo By Briggs Houston. From left to Right... Emily Dowdell, Erica Donlin, Mary-Ellin Kurtz, Carolyn Cavanaugh, Kristen Digilio