2016 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Lil’ Women: a rap musical’

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Are you searching for a 19th century story set to 21st century hip-hop, but not willing to cough up thousands of dollars for Hamilton tickets? Lil’ Women: a rap musical may be exactly what you’re searching for.

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Lil’ Women arrives at Capital Fringe after highly lauded performances in Orlando, New York, and Chicago. Written by Lindsay Taylor, Sara Stock and Rebecca Seigel with music and lyrics by Isaac Folch and Jordan Keyes, the show is surprisingly faithful to Alcott’s story of the March family.

The four “ill spittin’ lil women”, Jo (Molly Brennan), Meg (Molly McCormick), Beth (Mikayla Phillips) and Amy (Croix Provence) are tired of waiting for their lives to begin. Jo longs to have her manuscript published, Meg is desperate for a husband, Beth can’t wait for her family to be reunited, and Amy, bullied at home and school, hates being the baby. As they grow up, they dance with boys, accept and reject marriage proposals, travel, tease and fight and spit mad rhymes.

The show is best during its high energy group numbers paired with fun choreography by Savannah Simerly. Father’s homecoming from the war is a particular crowd pleaser, and the three-round rap battle between Jo and Meg shows off impressive wordplay. The music frequently nods to rappers from MC Hammer to Drake in delightful ways.

One of the few places the show falters is in its lengthy scenes, whose stilted, clumsy dialogue seems to strike an unnatural tone against the flowing rhymes of the rap numbers. But the talented cast carried us through a tremendous amount of plot squashed between each song. Brennan is a standout as the feisty tomboy Jo, along with Nicole Farmer as the warm (and somewhat zany) Marmee.

Lil’ Women: a rap musical is both exactly what you would expect, and unlike anything you’ve seen before. Even though the rise of Hamilton has brought rap musicals into the pop culture spotlight, this show still manages to be unique and a whole lot of fun!

Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.

Lil’ Women: a rap musical plays through Saturday, July 16, 2016 at Atlas Performing Art Center’s Lab II – 1333 H Street, NE Washington, DC For performance times and to purchase tickets, visit the Capital Fringe page.

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Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.

RATING:  BEST OF THE 2016 CAPITAL FRINGE!

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