Meg (Lydia Horn), Beth (Anne-Marie Lusk) and Amy (Libbie Williams) look out as they
watch Jo cut down Mr. Laurence’s priceless tree.
Review by Charlotte Weghorst, Highlands High School Critic Team
Beautiful music, intense scenes, and a tale of sisterly affection all come to a head in Randall K. Cooper High School's production of Little Women the Musical. Through vocals, acting, and spirit, this production of a classic tale truly was "astonishing."
Little Women the Musical follows the story of the four March sisters as they navigate their way into womanhood amidst the Civil War, the standards of high society, and an eagerness for independence. Based off a novel of the same name, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, it chronicles a coming-of-age story that takes onlookers on a rollercoaster that walks in conjunction with the twists and turns of teenagerhood.
Jo March, played by Ellie Oakes, did a phenomenal job embodying the fervor and courageousness necessary to portray this distinguished character. Her performance was encapsulated by both her astounding vocals in songs such as "Astonishing" and "The Fire Within Me," with acting that demonstrated the lively disposition of this beloved part. Bradlee Reed-Whalen who played Theodore "Laurie" Laurence, similarly took on the monumental task of depicting a character in which some qualities are mandatory. However, he pulled this off with ease as his goofy demeanor, animated expressions, and an innate sense comedic timing allowed for this character to come alive on stage.
One noteworthy character who deserves to be mentioned is Beth March, played by Anne-Marie Lusk, who encapsulated her performance with wonderous vocals in songs such as "Off to Massachusetts" and "Some Things are Meant to Be." Her calm and serene demeanor not only served her portrayal, but also gave a pleasant deviation from the bubbliness that is so notable of the other March sisters-Jo, Meg, and Amy.
Not only was the acting superb, but the technical aspects of this production also amazed. Jeremy Tripp is one crew member worthy of mention as their props transported theatergoers back in time. In addition, marketing and publicity by Alyssa Hartman <cq> was similarly impressive as they put out an entire social media campaign in order to get the word out. Last, but not least, the orchestra produced an extraordinary performance that filled the auditorium with beautiful sound and allowed onlookers to get drawn into the story transpiring before them.
A tale of mischievous fun, unexpected romance, the constraints of society, and, most importantly, sisterhood; all culminated in Randall K. Cooper High School's performance Little Women the Musical. Accompanied by numerous breathtaking melodies, a narrative taking the audience on a whirlwind of emotions, and a sensational cast; this production of a beloved classic truly stunned.
“Five Forever From Now On!” - L to R: Jo (Ellie Oakes), Laurie (Bradlee Reed-Whalen),
Beth (Anne-Marie Lusk), Amy (Libbie Williams) and Meg (Lydia Horn)
Review by Stella Stineman, Ursuline Academy Critic Team
Depicting the lives of four sisters with four different dreams and pursuits, Randall K. Cooper's production of Little Women: The Musical was a delightful experience that left its audience feeling inspired and with a warmth growing in their hearts.
Little Women the Musical is one of many adaptations of the iconic novel of the same name. For almost two centuries since its publication in 1868, Little Women has been exemplifying true love and sisterhood to readers around the world. It has now been able to give those same appeals to audiences since its Broadway debut in 2005.
Cooper High School put this classic on their stage amazingly. The way each room seamlessly blended into one another, and the lighting showed that room change was fantastic.
Ellie Oakes's portrayal of Jo March was both fiery and vulnerable, capturing the character's independent spirit and fierce determination. Her vocals carried many aspects of this production wonderfully. Additionally, Libbie Williams was a standout as Amy March, bringing a youthful energy and a mischievous spark to the role. Her performance in the song "The Most Amazing Thing" was a particular highlight of the show.
Lydia Horn shone as Meg March, bringing a sense of grace and elegance to the stage. Her singing voice was lovely, and her chemistry with the other actors was palpable. Anne-Marie Lusk delivered a heartbreaking performance as Beth March, imbuing the character with a quiet strength and a sense of innocence that made her fate all the more devastating. Her rendition of "Some Things Are Meant to Be" was hauntingly beautiful.
Due to the team of Albany Fritsch and Avery Powell, the makeup and hair of each character seemed so particularly to them individually while all fitting the period of the show very well. The orchestra of this production was incredible, and it was clear the talent of each member of the band individually.
Overall, Randall K. Cooper High School's production of "Little Women: The Musical" was a triumph, showcasing the talents of its cast and capturing the timeless spirit of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel.
“I’ll Marry You Tomorrow, I’ll Marry You Today!” Meg (Lydia Horn) agrees to Marry John Brooke (Daevon March)
Review by Ella Skolnicki, Loveland High School Critic Team
An aspiring writer, a hopeless romantic, a gentle soul, and a fiery painter - bonded in sisterhood - united on stage at Randall K. Cooper High School to bring to life a story that has found resonance for generations.
Following the four March sisters as they navigate life from adolescence through adulthood, Little Women unpacked the power of family ties, self-sacrifice and enduring love on stage in this tale originally told by Louisa May Alcott in her novel of the same title.
Randall K. Cooper High School delivered a performance that honored the legacy of this beloved story, with strong vocals, quick set changes, and wonderful prop pieces amplifying the overall performances.
Jo March, played by Ellie Oakes, personified Jo beautifully, and her vocal talent was evident in songs such as "Astonishing" and "Delighted." Additionally, Oakes' acting prowess was on full display as she pulled the audience into her character's moving story lines. Her chemistry with the other March sisters, played by Lydia Horn, Anne-Marie Lusk, and Libbie Williams; created the feeling that the four had known each other their entire lives.
Dylan James' Professor Bhaer was an exciting character to watch because of his extraordinary connection with Oakes. James carried himself with authority and captivated the audience with his strong vocals. "Small Umbrella in the Rain" pulled a strong performance out of James while revealing a softer side of his character. Rachael Baute as Aunt March provided welcome comedic relief in her clever delivery of this smaller role.
Stage Management, led by Greyson Johns and Aubree Hannah, did a splendid job of making sure the performance was smooth. The set changes were efficient and helped the pace of the show. Jeremy Tripp and the rest of the props crew created pieces that showcased important moments. For example, the construction of the kite in "Some Things Will Never Change" accentuated the poignancy of Beth's death. When the kite flew until the final words of the song, the props crew soared as well.
From the moment the lights went down, the collaboration between the members of the production created a memorable show that made the key themes of Little Women - self-sacrifice, the diversity of female ambitions, and the enduring power of sisterhood - relevant to a modern audience.
“Let’s Pretend We’re Riding on a Kite” - Beth (Anne-Marie Lusk) and Jo (Ellie Oakes) share a close sister moment before Beth’s death. Kite Created by Jeremy Tripp.
Excerpts From Other Top Reviews
"The technical aspects of this show were well-timed and creatively executed. Hair and makeup, designed by Albany Fritsch and Avery Powell, were practical and effective, enhancing the world of the musical. The props were cleverly orchestrated by, Jeremy Tripp, and the attention to detail even on the smallest of props, for example, on the petit fours, showed an extreme level of commitment."
-Loretta Rubin, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
"Keeping Jo grounded through it all were her sisters Amy (Libbie Williams), Meg (Lydia Horn), and Beth (Anne-Marie Lusk). The three had terrific on stage chemistry, perfectly portraying the sisterly bond as sisters grow into adulthood. Lusk had a gorgeous vocal tone in her song "Some Things are Meant to Be," as Beth finally let go, allowing Jo to write her story. We also see Horn's outstanding acting capabilities as Meg and John Brooke, played by Daevon March, go from acquaintances to lovers throughout the show, leaving a glimmer of hope for those around them."
-Ashlyn Fuhrmann, William Henry Harrison High School Critic Team
"The orchestra was composed of Violins (Regina Mason and Will Oertel), Flutes (Mallory McCubbin and Camille Kolar), a Trombone (Sean LaRoy), and many other instruments that were played by students in their district. They were always on time and entered when they were supposed to, they were well-tuned, and all of the instruments blended together creating a pleasant harmony. The publicity team, led by Alyssa Hartman, hand painted and created posters that were hung up around the school that matched the theme or scenes of the show, and they also had QR codes on the posters that sent one to the link for tickets."
-Syeirra Todaro, William Mason High School Critic Team
"To begin, the lead actress Ellie Oakes offered the perfect portrayal of the headstrong and courageous Jo March. Through the tone of her speaking voice to the strong belting in her solo "Astonishing," Oakes did not fail to provide the audience with the willful image that is Jo March. Similarly, Bradlee Reed-Whalen who played Laurie Laurence presented the humorously awkward young boy wonderfully. With his comedic timing and amusing facial expressions, he brought Laurie's character to life on stage."
-Julia Biernat, Saint Ursula Academy Critic Team
"Anne-Marie Lusk quickly forms a connection between the audience and her character, Beth March, through her soft spoken words and impactful voice in the songs 'Off to Massachusetts' and 'Some Things Are Meant to Be.' On the contrary, Libbie William's character Amy March provides comedic one-liners that many with a bratty younger sibling can relate to hearing."
-Norah Shadwell, Highlands High School Critic Team
"A very impressive aspect of the show was the strong stage management presence. Led by Greyson Johns and Aubree Hannah, scene changes were quick and precise, which kept the musical moving with a spectacular pace. The props in the show set the scenes in a Civil-War nation and were especially impressive with a flying kite during an emotional moment with Jo and Beth. Led by Jeremy Tripp, the homemade kite was a sight to behold."
-Katie Buschle, Highlands High School Critic Team
"As Little Women is based largely on the author's life, the themes ring true for millions of people across generations. Randall K. Cooper High School's version of this show also left a large emotional impact that will not soon be forgotten despite the curtains being closed."
-Libby Boehmer, Saint Ursula Academy Critic Team