Actresses find themselves in Little Women


Photo by Megan Thorne

Katie Jones (Amy March), Morgan Book (Meg March) and Maggie Browne (Beth March) huddle around Jacelyn Stewart (Jo March) as she tells them her plan to make everything better again for their family, during rehearsal for “Little Women” Tuesday evening in the Performance Center.

Through the struggle of her own boyfriend being deployed, Morgan Book channels her emotion in “Little Women” as the romantic Meg, engaged to a man who goes off to war.

“When we did the duet between Meg and Mr. Brook that first night of rehearsals, I cried through the whole thing,” the sophomore theatre major said. “I can take from real, raw emotion, but I also have to contain it to be able to sing.”

“Little Women,” a musical directed by Elliot Wasserman, will end the 2016-17 theatre season this weekend. Auditions were held in December.

Book said it was crazy that her life paralleled Meg’s, and in the first few rehearsals it was difficult for her to balance emotion and acting.

“I have to push myself past my emotion,” she said. “The more I did it, the easier it became. Every now and then, it still gets me, and I will probably cry the entire run of the show. But I know where to stop.”

Book also said “oddly enough,” several of the other cast members resemble their characters as well, especially those playing two of Meg’s sisters, Jo and Beth.

“Everyone has such different personalities,” she said. “It’s so cool to see the development of all four girls.”

With a predominantly female cast, “Little Women” focuses on the March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy throughout their lives as they deal with hardship and family matters.

“This has been one of the closest casts I’ve ever worked with,” Book said. “We have gotten so close, and that’s created such an interesting dynamic onstage. It’s so real.”

Freshman Jacelyn Stewart said she doesn’t think she’s all that much like her character, Jo, but her castmates think she’s incredibly like her.

“I know what they mean,” the theatre major said, smiling. “I do have silly aspects like her. Sometimes I’ll sit unladylike or burp, just like the tomboy Jo is. But I’m not as strong as her. I’ve been trying to become more like her since I’ve gotten this part.”

Stewart said this is the most challenging show she’s ever been in because of its vocal requirements.

“We have to wear corsets, which is like the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “Those costumes changes are difficult, and then you have to sing in them. I’ve also never been in a show where I’m singing in literally every scene.”

Stewart said certain emotional scenes in the show are even sadder because she’s so close to the rest of the cast.

“(Those scenes) have an impact on me,” she said. “I will sob, because I’ve really connected with this show.”

Like Stewart, junior Maggie Browne said as she plays Beth, she wants to become more like her.

“I didn’t audition for Beth, but I’m very happy with it,” she said. “The more we go, I can see that I couldn’t be anybody else in this show. I am Beth.”

Browne agreed that the cast is incredibly like family, supporting each other through the process of rehearsals.

“I’ve never been in a cast this close,” she said. “It’s really a family atmosphere.”

Browne said she’s in love with the show and everything the theatre group has done with performing it uniquely.

“It’s an old story, but it’s so relevant,” she said. “This is every family ever.”

Browne said it’s “fantastic” to be starring in a show featuring women at its core, noting that last year theatre students went to faculty concerned about male-heavy shows.

“The men get their moments here, too,” she said, “but it’s about the sisters.”

After the show, Browne said she hopes families leave feeling even more love for one another.

“The March sisters celebrate everyone in their family and what makes them individuals,” she said. “It’d be special if everybody leaves and hugs their family just a little tighter.”