Review by Sophia Rooksberry, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
Christopher Columbus! Mariemont High School's rendition of Little Women was an astonishing production that touchingly exemplified the powers of self-reliance, grief, and family.
Based on the beloved novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women follows the lives of four sisters - Jo, Amy, Meg, and Beth - through a time of change in their lives. With the Civil War ravaging America, the dawn of the Suffragette Movement right around the corner, and the girls on the brink of adulthood, their tumultuous story of empowerment and sisterly bonds is one that only grows finer with age. With impressive technical feats, a cast of gifted actors, and a passionate fire lit inside the entire company, Mariemont breathed new life into the show, and made Little Women entirely their own.
The leading role of Jo was justly brought to life by Ellison Van Scoy, whose strong musicality and energy easily expressed the stubbornness and adventurous spirit of the character. In the role of Amy, Tierney Rasmussen's hilarious performance was laced with all of the pouting and jealousy that is characteristic of any youngest sibling. Responsible for the show's most tragic storyline, Grace Flerlage's performance as Beth was heart wrenching and innocently beautiful. In the role of Meg, Isabella Harris brought dazzling vocals and dry wit to her role. Finally, tying the group together was Benny Mitchell as Laurie, the March's neighbor who served as a love interest to more than one of the sisters. Embodying the character's carefree and gawky style, Mitchell portrayed Laurie with a charisma that was delightful to watch.
Owning the stage with every entrance was Lilli Hoel as Aunt March. Serving as the sisters' mentor in all things ladylike, Hoel never once dropped the sophisticated and hilarious mannerisms that fueled her performance. All the way from her dialect to her posture, Hoel embodied the character completely, and the audience could not get enough. Similarly, every time Ellie Haynes as Marmee opened her mouth to sing, jaws dropped all throughout the theater. Her lilting voice in numbers such as "Here Alone" and "Days of Plenty", combined with her gentle maternal moments, resulted in a moving performance that was one of the show's highlights.
The efforts of the Mariemont production team were nothing short of extraordinary. The lighting design, headed by Ella Willett, was incredibly poignant and flawlessly matched the vibrancy of the actors. From the muted and amber tones filling the March household with warmth, to the vivid and provocative palette in scenes of heightened emotion, the lighting team didn't miss a single opportunity to deepen a moment. Led by Izzy Harris, the hair and makeup team did a phenomenal job of suiting hairstyles to each character, all while remaining historically accurate. Despite the challenges, the hair and makeup team always kept the actors looking classy and professional.
With remarkable talent and dedication, the company at Mariemont effortlessly achieved a stunning show. Inspired and driven, every aspect of Little Women, from the overture to the final bows, was pulled off with grace and vivacity.
Review by Sophie Christian, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
A renowned literature classic combined with an ensemble of beautiful voices sounds almost like a theatre enthusiast's dream, and Mariemont High School's production of Little Women fully encapsulates this fantasy.
The classic novel Little Women, written by Louisa May Alcott, tells the story of the four March sisters: Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy, and how each of them grow up and discover who they really are in society. The story is set during the Civil War, a period of change and development, and this aspect is tied into the progression of all of the characters in the story. From childhood to adulthood, each character carries a distinct personality, and each member of the cast of Mariemont's production took this fact to heart and embodied every feature throughout the show.
The comradery amongst all of the characters in this show is extremely important to capture, and the Mariemont cast took this with grace and executed a tight bond that was recognized amongst the audience. Each character had discernable stories and personalities that stood out throughout the show. The theatrical elements combined with the intricate tech elements of this production balanced each other beautifully, and each member of the cast and crew carried their weight and produced a beautiful show
Jo March, played by Ellison Van Scoy, is the quirky, passionate protagonist of our story who takes an independent path in life, relying solely on herself and her dreams of being a famous writer. Jo is extremely different from her sisters, as she cares little about society and would rather follow her ambitions rather than settle down with a man, creating an important role model for young women. Van Scoy took this character's personality and ambitions and had a remarkable performance that left many audience members with someone to admire, and although the character is fictitious, her performance felt as though Jo March was a real person standing on stage.
Despite the script revolving around the life of the March sisters, many other important characters played major roles in the production. The girl's mother, Marmee, played by Ellie Haynes, an intellectual, loving woman, is one of the driving forces behind each of the sisters' lives, and aids in each of their development. Haynes embodied the motherly role in every scene she was in and had an extreme emotional impact that showcased the vocal and theatrical talent she possesses.
Due to the setting of the story, the technical crew had a major role in captivating the audience into the production, and all aspects executed this greatly. The lighting, designed by Ella Willett, had a sense of warmness and had moments that captured the sweetness and love of the story, and with the use of specific tools such as spotlights, intimate moments were definitely recognized.
The students of Mariemont High School not only worked together to showcase a coming-of-age story, but also one of passion that left a lovely emotional impact on those watching.
Review by Maura MacDonald, Campbell County High School Critic Team
Based on Louisa May Alcott's American classic, this heart-warming, feel-good musical tells the story of the March family and the troubles they faced during the Civil War. Jo, one of the March sisters, is an aspired writer in hopes of publication and travel. She narrates her story, as well as her family's experience during the Civil War. With their father at war, the death of a sister, and surprising proposals, each of the sisters are trying to find themselves and their roles in society as women. This "astonishing" production of Little Women, written by Allan Knee, was produced by Mariemont High School.
The lead performers did a beautiful job at captivating the audience and carrying the storyline. Lead actress Ellison Van Scoy, who portrayed Jo, and lead actor Benny Mitchell, who played Laurie. Both shared beautiful connections, especially during "Take A Chance On Me" which signified their characters strong friendship.
The supporting cast led by Tierney Rasmussen, who portrayed the youngest sister of the March sisters, Amy, and Sam Parker, who played Professor Bhaer, both kept the audience enthralled as they created magnificent sub-plots from Jo's story of trying to become a well-known writer. Female vocalist Ellie Haynes, who played Marmee, did a lovely job as she added a motherly tone through her charming and rich vibrato. Choreography led by Mia Ramundo, a featured dancer created a graceful setting, especially during her appearance in "Astonishing." Every time Ramundo was on stage, the audience's eyes were immediately drawn to her elegant moves. The most monumental aspect of the cast was the March sisters' connections. Their loving, sisterly bonds really embodied the tear-jerking, heart-warming moments of the production. This fascinating connection that they shared was very prominent in the song, "Our Finest Dreams" which they collaborated exquisite harmonies.
The technical aspects of the show were grand considering the story of the March family was originally a book. The set design was inspired by the book which featured a cozy fireplace, dangling books, twisted trees, and quotes from the actual book transcribed on the stage. The set design really made the story come to life on stage. The lighting, managed by Ella Willet, was complex considering the story is based in the 1800s and the scenes were held in different environments. Willet transported the audience to the 1800s by featuring a spotlight and color light hues that complimented the mood of each scene.
Mariemont High School's production of Little Women was an uplifting, touching experience that incorporated the pleasing feeling of personal discovery, heartache, and the meaning of family.
Excerpts From Other Top Reviews
"Overall, the cast had amazing energy, especially the sisters and Marmee, for example in the song "Delighted." In addition, the ensemble of Jo's storybook characters added a pleasing break in the actual plot to watch them act out Jo's writings through their whimsical dancing. Particularly, anyone could tell that Mia Ramundo (featured dancer) was not new to dancing; she added a delightful touch to scenes she appeared in."
Adelaide Sheets, Campbell County High School Critic Team
"In particular, the actress for Jo was made for the role. Ellison Van Scoy, who played Jo, brought her to life in this story. She had the voice of an angel and really captured Jo's spirit and characteristics through the musical. Beth, or Grace Flerlage, also stole the show. When Beth dies in the second act there were tears in the audience's eyes. Grace was perfect and sweet just like Beth. Grace did a wonderful job of also playing the piano, which caused this to be one of people's favorite parts of the show."
"The technical aspects of the performance were incredible. During a scene where Jo is recounting one of her stories a flurry of snow falls down on the stage. The snow was incredibly realistic bringing depth to the performance. The lighting was also a highlight. During an intense character moment in a song a spotlight would shine on the character bringing the audiences full attention to them and their thoughts. In 'More Than I Am' when John Brooke Is proposing to Meg, the lighting turns pink and yellow reflecting the warmth of love. The set overall was amazing. The floor walls and some stationary set pieces, like a fireplace, were all made to look like they were pages in Little Women with words from the book lining their sides."
-Elijah Smith, Highlands High School Critic Team
" I would be remiss if I did not mention Amy March (Tierney Rasmussen). <Rasmussen's portrayal of the storyline from an immature child wanting her time to be now to the polished, patient young woman she ended the show, showed the marvelous range that Ms. Rasmussen possesses. The March sisters would not be complete without a romantic, which was exactly who Meg March was. Portrayed by Isabella Harris, we saw her journey of having to leave her sisters behind first for her one true love, John Brooke (Charlie Perkins).Harris takes along for the ride of having to break the normally exciting news of an engagement to her anti-romantic sister Jo. Harris embodied the role like no one else could."
-Ella Clemons, Loveland High School Critic Team
"The cast and crew of Mariemont High School's Little Women took on the formidable challenge of such an iconic storyline with such grace through their lovely technical victories in lighting and hair as well as their knowledge and development of these characters. There was never a dull moment during this show as audiences were captivated by the moving, heart-wrenching characters. To envelope these characters was a lovely lighting design and beautiful hairstyles to compliment."
-Malayna Pope, Cooper High School Critic Team
"This review would be utterly incomplete without mentioning the characters of Beth (Grace Flerlage) and Marmee (Ellie Haynes). Their performances moved audiences with not only their vocal talents but also their skills as actors. Beth's soft and gentle nature came through particularly well in the number "Off to Massachusetts" in a duet with Mr. Laurence (Robert Hargrave), and she stunned the audience in "Some Things Are Meant to Be." Marmee's vocals were of professional quality and she used her operatic voice to great effect, showing a character that conveyed the anxieties, hopes, and struggles of parenting in the numbers "Here Alone" and "Days of Plenty" in addition to her showstopping ensemble numbers with the principal cast.
-Samuel Contreras, Highlands High School Critic Team
"Mariemont High School encapsulated the gut-wrenching heartbreak, yet boundary breaking messages of this show stunningly and showed that with a family as strong and determined as the March family, any mountain can be conquered."
-Brando Donaldson, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team