‘Little Women’

Warren Players presents adaptation of the classic novel May 2-5 at Struthers

Photos submitted to Times Observer From left are Adrianne Hunt, Kelsey Angove, Megan VanOrd, Nyssa Brumagin, and Andrew Stalder.

A musical adaptation of a classic novel, “Little Women: The Broadway Musical” brings to Struthers Library Theatre the timeless story of a mother and her four daughters through their journeys of personal discovery, heartache, hope, and everlasting love.

Presented by Warren Players, “Little Women” opens at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 2. Additional show times are 7 p.m. Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 5.

Based on Louisa May Alcott’s 1869 semi-autobiographical novel, the plot follows the lives of the four March sisters: traditional Meg; headstrong, aspiring writer Jo; timid Beth; and romantic Amy. The girls and their mother, endeared to them as Marmee, are at home in Concord, Massachusetts while their father and husband is away serving as a chaplain in the Union army during the Civil War.

The musical invites audiences into the imagination of the feisty and determined Jo as she pursues her dream to become a published writer, while navigating the sometimes precarious waters of sisterhood, self-reliance and love.

The cast of “Little Women” features Nyssa Brumagin as Jo, Adrianne Hunt as Meg, Kelsey Angove as Beth and Megan VanOrd as Amy. Also featured is Kathy Hurst as Marmee, Melissa Carr as Aunt March, Michael Stenberg as John Brooke, Patrick Mulligan as Professor Bhaer, Andrew Stalder as Laurie and Allan Branthoover as Mr. Laurence.

The production is directed by Dixie Brumagin, with production management by Patrick Mulligan and assistant Amanda Wolf; vocal direction by Kevin Hunt; costuming by Charmaine Check; and lighting design by Barb Crowley.

As one of four sisters, the director quickly found her connection to the lives of the March sisters. “This is a story that most of us can relate to, growing up with sibling rivalry. It is a reminder that we all have our own hopes and dreams,” Brumagin said. “I saw this show several years ago and loved it, reminding me of growing up with my own three sisters. So, when the opportunity came for me to be able to direct this show, I had to take it.”

“This show is full of humor and also sadness. I hope people bring tissue with them when they come to see this production,” Brumagin said. “I couldn’t ask for a better cast and crew. For a first-time director, this has been a great experience.”

Several of the actors and crew said they have a personal connection to the classic tale – from family traditions to personal identification with a character – which inspired them to get involved with the production.

Adrianne Hunt fell in love with the story after watching the 1949 film with her grandmother.

“As the oldest in my own family, with a penchant for dancing and fancy things, I understand Meg’s struggles to figure out what she wants in life,” Hunt said. “While I am also a writer like Jo, and my heart bled when I first read the story and knew what Amy had done, Meg has always been a sort of ladylike ideal in my mind. I have always liked her journey of self understanding.”

Likewise, a family connection sparked Kelsey Angove’s love for the novel and inspired her to seek a role in the show.

“When I was growing up, ‘Little Women’ was always a special book in my house. My mom collects dolls and she actually has the ‘Little Women’ Madame Alexander dolls, which I always remember looking at as a kid,” Angove said. “When I was old enough to read the book, it was my 6th grade book report and I dressed up as Amy and brought my mom’s dolls in with me. When I found out Players was doing the show I was really excited because it’s a story that has always been close to my heart.”

Nyssa Brumagin connected with the character of Jo when she first saw a production of “Little Women” in high school.

“I never read the book but I related to her on that level of wanting to be a published writer. I was also a cranky emo teenager at the time and I just saw myself in this girl who went against the grain and did her own thing and wanted to be artistic,” Brumagin said. “Actors tend to have their dream role, and ever since I saw Little Women, Jo has been the one for me. To have the opportunity to do it is amazing. It’s meant a lot.”

Portraying Marmee in this production has been an extension of the beloved role that Kathy Hurst gets to play in real life.

“I have been away from the theater for probably 10 years just because life got busy and other obligations came in, but this one caught my eye. Being a mother has been my defining role for myself, all my life. I love being a mom, I always wanted to be a mom and love my kids to death,” Hurst said.

After dealing with a personal setback, Hurst has found comfort in being back on stage. “This experience has been cathartic for me. I’ve been able to work through things… and still express that motherly love to my daughters on the stage,” she said. “That’s what brought me out of the woodwork again to try out for a show.”

Cast and crew members also said they have developed a special bond throughout the rehearsal process. “People have been so welcoming – just feeling that acceptance and uplift from everyone involved has been a blessing,” Hurst said. “They’re all so fabulous, I just can’t say enough about them. “

Tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for students. To purchase tickets, order online at strutherslibrarytheatre.com or call the theatre office at (814) 723-7231. Tickets can also be purchased at the box office, which opens one hour before showtime.

For more information on Warren Players, visit warrenplayers.com or facebook.com/WarrenPlayers.

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