YST’s “Little Women” An Evening of Family Entertainment, Fremont Centre Theatre

Theatre Review by Alisa Hayashida

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Young Stars Theatre, the resident company at the Fremont, brings to life the John Ravold adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Little Women, a beloved story that has the power to still touch us today. The story of the four March sisters growing up in Civil War era New England is one that has seen many incarnations in film, television, plays and even a musical; so there is, for many, a built-in affection for these characters. It is heartwarming to see them brought to life and watch their story unfold in front of you. As per custom, YST has two full casts, usually made up of all youth actors. For Little Women, they have a youth cast and a traditional cast. All the actors are different save for the gruff and hard to love Aunt March played in both casts by the irrepressible Robin Roth. This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing the traditional cast and look forward to seeing the youth cast as well. Either one is most definitely a lovely outing for the entire family; young ones will be introduced to the story and older theatre goers will love the nostalgia of perhaps their first viewing of Little Women.

The four sisters at the core of the play are spirited “tomboy” Jo, played with gumption and fire by Morgan Zenith (Eaden Franklynn-Youth Cast in parenthesis), Meg, played gracefully by Kara Ludke (JQuinn McKenna), Beth played with sweet delicacy by Isabel Daly (Aine Lee), and Amy played with just the right amount of pretention by Clara Daly (Sophia Kavsioglu). They come across genuinely as sisters and all show tenderness and admiration towards their stalwart ‘Marmie’ played by the plucky Gretchen Harrison (Victoria Johnson).

The men in the cast are a startling addition of manliness to the March household, manifested by the activity they create whenever they enter a room. Longtime company member, Matthew Golden (Elliott Moore) is charming as Laurie and has great chemistry with Morgan Zenith which makes their one-sided romance all the more poignant. Marion Paton (Daniel Johnson) is the dashing tutor Mr. Brooke whose scenes with Meg are among the most delightful. Elliot Einbinder (Jack Wisinski) is a steady and kind Mr. March and Pete Pano (Aristo Ocequeda) breaks your heart as Jo’s professor Bhaer.

For those uninitiated to the play, it will be a pleasure to discover this beautiful story and for those who hold it dear to their hearts, it’s an evening spent wrapping yourself in the simple, unsophisticated charm of these Little Women.

Little Women runs weekends through May 22 at Fremont Centre Theatre. $25. 1000 Fremont Ave. South Pasadena. Showtimes/Tickets/Info online: FremontCentreTheatre.com or call (626) 269-3609. For information and to get on the audition email list go to YoungStarsTheatre.org

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