Behind the scenes with Corrieanne Stein and Thomas S. Wootton High School’s production of Little Women
With only seven weeks from casting to performance, the rehearsal schedule for Thomas S. Wootton High School’s production of Little Women has been frantic. Our cast, crew, and orchestra are made up of veteran performers and some very talented newcomers, and with great intensity and commitment, they are all rising to the challenge.
In this, my last year at Wootton HS, I feel incredibly lucky to be playing the part of Jo March in Wootton’s production of Little Women directed by the incomparable Carla Ingram. During my year performing in Billy Elliot the Musical in NYC, I had the privilege of meeting Sutton Foster backstage when she came to visit the show. Now I am finding her a direct inspiration in working to develop this challenging role – making it mine while respecting her original creative vision. Ms. Ingram returned to Wootton last year after several years’ absence — and having her back has been a huge boost for Wootton’s program. Her years of choral experience have been a vital source of support as she spend hours working with us on the vocally demanding roles.
High School Theater has certain spontaneous charms that make it a particular kind of theater experience. In our case, the cast has been expanded to reflect the play within a play – my character, Jo, is perpetually writing “blood and guts” stories which she is trying to sell, is able to portray these since inside the main plot; so we have wonderful character actors who bring to life her operatic tragedies, complete with villain, damsel in distress, knight in shining armor, troll, and hag.
The loveable March sisters, played by Mara Pugh, Jackie Kempa, and Meghan Wright, have all the typical problems of a house full of teenage girls – our backstage teasing and playing around continues onstage for the audience to share. Our mother, played by Sasha Bartol, has her hands full both on and off the stage keeping us under control! The men in our lives are wonderfully played by Jeffrey Morse, Zachary Korn, and Simon Chen and each, in a different way, provides grounding to the March family.
While I love singing and acting, one of the nice things about the show for me is having the chance to dance. The young stage veteran Max Fowler, who plays the male lead role of Laurie Lawrence, is a fine dancer and a versatile all-around performer. I love working with him because we try to get the best from each other on stage. In fact, that’s true of the entire cast – we just elevate each other.
Our guest musical director for the show is Aaron Gage, a Wootton alum and now graduate of the Berklee School of Music. Having performed on stage himself in previous Wootton musicals, he is able to direct the talented pit musicians and find the perfect balance between vocals and instruments in the many beautiful ballads in the show.
Working with Technical Director Nick Hitchens, our crew has done an outstanding job of building a set that feels like home – a place where the March girls find sanctuary from the changing world around them. Mr. Hitchens is also both a teacher at Wootton and a veteran of the school’s theater program as an alumnus.
Everyone should enjoy this family friendly show ! Hope to see you at Wootton High School this Friday, October 18th and Saturday, October 19th at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, October 20th at 2 PM. Purchase tickets online, or at the door.
Here’s the cast of Little Women.