The theater program at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus will put on its own production of “Little Women” in a few weeks on the Dreyfuss stage. The play is based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel.
“I think most of the general public has read ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott or has at least heard of it,” said Jennie Davies, a junior theater arts major and political science minor who was made production stage manager of “Little Women.” “There’s also a musical version of ‘Little Women,’ which the author of our play, Allan Knee, wrote the book for.”
Though “Little Women” is set in a different era, Jeorgi Smith, who plays Beth March, said, “It was chosen for FDU because of its multiple roles, diversity and classic tale.”
“This version of the play is more based off of the musical, which was only written about 10 years ago. It’s a very easy-to-understand play, and it moves fairly quickly and is actually pretty funny so I really don’t think anyone will be bored watching it,” Davies said.
Elizabeth Colagrande is a junior at FDU. She plays Jo March in this production. “I feel like every audience member can connect with at least one character,” she said, “and that by watching [the character’s] journey, [the audience] will have the inspiration to strive towards what they want to achieve in their own lives.”
Colagrande is definitely able to connect with her character. She said the character Jo is mainly based on Alcott herself. She explained that Jo “faces personal challenges and heartaches,” but still remains optimistic and true to herself.
“I feel like I’m similar to Jo because of our drive and passion to achieve our dreams and the endless love we have for our families,” Colagrande said, explaining the relevance of her character’s life to her own.
Smith plays Beth March. She said that this character is a musician, the second youngest in the family and “known as miss ‘tranquility.’”
Smith said she can relate to the character because Beth is “very honest and truthful,” but it still is a “challenging role.”
“[Beth] undergoes a lot over the course of the show,” she said. “This role is emotionally demanding,” Smith said. “I must use impediments during the show.”
Luckily, the rehearsal process allows time for the actors to get to know their characters on a personal level. The cast focuses on table reading during the first few rehearsals.
Colagrande said that this process helps the actors find “the underlying meaning of the lines” and “different interpretations of telling the story.”
Davies, who came on as stage manager late in the process, has been working hard since she was given the responsibilities. “I’ve been around for less than a week, and I’ve already seen such incredible work from everyone, including all the actors and crew. Logistically, we’ve finished blocking the show (working out how everyone moves on stage) and are going back now to really start fine tuning,” she said on Monday.
Referring to the entire cast and crew, she said theater is “a collaborative art form.”
As stage manager, Davies works closely with two assistant stage managers, Rachel Palmisano and Maddy Fields. Their job, said Davies, “is to make sure everyone involved is on the same page and make sure everything’s that’s supposed to be happening is actually happening, and happening when it’s supposed to be.”
Of course, the director is another very important person in the production process. James Warwick is the director for this production.
“He’s been on ‘Doctor Who,’ ‘Murder, She Wrote,’ and voiced Qui-Gon Jinn in several ‘Star Wars’ video games, to name a few credits. He’s been great to work with, and I know the cast really likes him too,” said Davies. “He’s a brilliant director and also very funny. I’ve always thought it’s great that our department gives us the opportunity to work with such talented guest directors, outside of our extraordinarily talented professors.”
Davies credited many others working behind the scenes, including the tech director, production manager, set designer and costume designer.
Everyone involved is excited for the outcome.
“I wanted to do this play because it’s a classic,” Smith said. “This show is known among many. It’s a classic novel that people read around the world. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of a show with so much history?”
Colagrande is also enthusiastic about her role. “Being able to perform one of my favorite literary characters is the most exciting for me!”
The audience has a lot to gain from seeing the show, as well. Colagrande hopes the audience will gain a “sense of hope” through the journeys that the characters endure.
Smith wants the audience to join in on the characters’ journeys. She said, “Each show is a new, imaginative story that takes people out of the real world for a short time. I want people to find happiness.”
“Little Women” will run in Dreyfuss Theater from March 4 to 6 and March 9 to 10. See the “FDU Theatre” Facebook page for more information about current and other productions.
Pillar Editor-in-Chief Kristen Ordonez contributed to this article.