By Mary Loftis —

Genna Weidner has not been typecast by the ConVal Drama Department. After warming up as a witch in “Macbeth” last fall, the talented Dublin freshman played a frightening hag in the recent production of “Little Women, the Musical,” both roles a far cry from Genna’s real-life persona! She also served as Assistant Director and Stage Manager for “Little Women,” three shows of which just finished playing in the ConVal theater May 11-13.

The show was full of talented people from our little town.

This show, a musical based on a book by Allan Knee with music by Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein, is a reinterpretation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic 1869 novel featuring the four March sisters of Concord, Massachusetts, whose disparate personalities and strong family bonds engender the storyline. The plot of the original Alcott book has been succinctly summarized: “Beth dies.” Beth dies in this musical production as well, but there are lots of entertaining twists – and lovely music – along the way.

The stage set by Bruce Dodge was visually rich, juxtaposing the Marches’ parlor with an attic – both a playroom with the girls’ dolls and a writing studio for Jo March. With a few minor adjustments and shifts in focus, the same space became a New York boarding house and a Cape Cod beach.

Marybeth Hallinan’s flawless piano accompaniment and direction of the six-member pit band (including Nick Jadaszewski) carried the action along while allowing the voices to be clearly heard. And the voices were beautiful – every one!

One of the wonderful voices belonged to Tim Clark, the only adult on stage. He played Mr. Lawrence, a crusty but ultimately kind neighbor of the March family. Tim is retiring from his teaching job in June, but he is certainly not retiring from the many other things he does! Since his involvement with ConVal drama preceded his tenure at the school, I hope he will be back on stage or behind it.

The Brown family was well represented in this production. ConVal senior Nathan Brown played Laurie, Mr. Lawrence’s grandson and the suitor first of Jo and then of Amy March. Nathan’s singing and dancing talents were on display throughout the show, and he also got to do some comic sword fighting as well! Nathan’s oldest sister Sarah, a previous star of the ConVal stage, was the choreographer of the show, and their mother Vicki worked behind the scenes as part of the costume crew. This group, which also included Dubliners Grisel Levene and Connie Cerroni, must have been challenged with all the lace in those 19th century ensembles!

I was predisposed to like this show. It was a musical (which I generally love). And it was full of talented people from our little town.

But I was so impressed by every aspect of the production that I kept smiling about it for days!

Mary Loftis is Dublin’s representative to the ConVal School board for SAU 1.

Little Women, The Musical