By: Kaleigh Pryor
When most people think of Christopher Columbus, they think of the explorer who sailed the ocean blue in 1492. But to the March sisters, the main heroines of the musical “Little Women”, this adventurer’s name is an interjection used to express excitement, shock or disbelief.
The tale of the March women is a classic story that has been told time and time again, whether it be by the pages of a book, actors on a screen, or, in this case, through musical numbers live on Western’s Potter Hall Theatre stage.
Although the plotline of this famous narrative is one that is familiar to most, the interesting elements of Western’s production come from the intimate details that might not be known to any given audience member.
Abby “Kit” Wolff, a theatre major with an animation minor, had been a part of “Little Women” from the get-go. Working with the production for nearly 11 months, Wolff’s situation was definitely a unique one.
“I was approached with the opportunity to do the projection design early on,” Wolff said. “I was just fortunate enough to get cast while and also create the content for a show I loved.”
Wolff played Amy March, the youngest March sister, who craves a life of status and luxury, while also having a passion for art. Similar to her character of Amy, Wolff has always had a knack for drawing and sketching. Through her artistry, Wolff was presented with the opportunity to create all of the set projections and began work at the end of March 2018.
Wolff’s original inspiration and concept for her drawings were to have them look as though they were created by Amy, who later ended up being her character.
“Acting and performing-wise, I’ve done a lot of musicals,” Wolff said. “But the design aspect really opened my eyes to how collaborative things have to be; this was probably the most character-building experience for me as an actor, designer and a person, in general. I was with the project for a really long time, and it was really gratifying to see my art on stage.”
Another actress who had a strong personal connection to her character was Allyson Bryson. Bryson, a sophomore musical theatre major, played the role of Jo March. Jo is the second oldest March sister whose independence, determination and passion make her a skilled writer, but these same traits can also get the best of her at times.
By the end of the production, Jo’s strong-willed nature and feisty attitude helped make all of her lifelong dreams come true. As the main character of this timeless story, Jo has been a role model to women of all ages for generations. This is evident through Bryson’s own special bond to the character.
“My great-great grandma, who I’m named after had four daughters and named one of them Jo, because she loved the book version so much,” Bryson said.
Bryson’s great-great grandmother passed away her junior year of high school. Although losing her was difficult, Bryson said being able to take on the role of Jo was a special way to honor someone who meant so much to her. Some of Bryson’s grandmother’s sisters even came to watched the show.
When asked what the story of the show meant to both of the women, Wolff and Bryson touched on the key points of feminism and empowerment, but they both agreed that the meaning, for them, goes way beyond that.
Wolff identified strongly with the theme of family and supporting one another through good times and bad. Similarly, Bryson related to the representation of self-discovery and confidence that was developed throughout the evolution of the March sisters.
“No matter who you are, what you do, what you love, how you express yourself, you need to just go out there and own it,” Bryson said. “All the sisters are so different, but they are true to themselves.”
Despite the fame that is associated with the story of Little Women, each interpretation of the tale carries its own individuality. As for Western’s production, the personal relationships the cast had with their characters elevated the performance to another level. And one thing is for sure; by the end of the show, the audience was definitely joyfully exclaiming, “Christopher Columbus!” right along with the cast.