Adventures in Reading

Little Women the Musical
February 21, 2008, 4:28 pm
Filed under: thoughtful

One of the reasons I opted to read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women last month was because a local theater was having a showing of the Broadway musical Little Women. On perhaps the coldest day I had seen all month, I bundled up and went to the show. In short, it was okay. In length, it is very interesting to see any adaptation of Little Women. Some books, such as Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, beg for film adaptations and read nearly as screenplays themselves. Other novels, and I would include Little Women provide a bit of a dilemma as the idea and heart exists but the transference is often weak.

Little Women the musical was a nice production with enjoyable songs. The costumes were okay and the scenery was splendid. The German accent was a bit rough for Professor Baehr… but it was an enjoyable evening. One of the reasons that Little Women is a tricky adaptation is because the book is really a series of mini moral lessons that the March sisters experience and these range from love matters to school room behavior to the war cause. Additionally, while the second oldest daughter Jo (or Josephine) has always been the center attraction to any adaptation (and Amy almost always as an unlikeable character) the book actually gives a pretty fair share of face time to each of the sisters.

I admit that the musical very much reminded me of the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast. I did not understand why, but when the six year old sitting next to me confused Meg March with Belle I knew I was onto something. Recently, I also watched the Little Women adaptation starring Katherine Hepburn, and I must give Hepburn all the credit for carrying that movie. Jo of the musical seemed to very much reference this early, black and white adaptation of the novel.

And while I am on adaptations, not too long ago, perhaps just before the PBS Jane Austen films, TCM or AMC or some such vintage/classic movie channels was showing a very early production of Pride & Prejudice. I watched about five minutes – with Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy at Lady Catherine’s home – and then it cut to two people talking about the films. Of the five minutes I had seen I felt the movie was completely dreadful and very grateful that the movie had been recreated. However, the two talking heads disagreed and said something ludicrous about how they could not understand why a movie would ever be remade when it had been done so well…

With Alcott’s Little Women I am sure more adaptations – on and off the stage – will be done in the future. Personally, I would love to see all four daughters receive more development than any of the present adaptations have made available.



Even though I’m a big musical fan, I’m often very irritated that they seem to be making EVERYTHING into musicals these days. What happened to the days of non-musical stage adaptations? Y’know, good ol’ PLAYS and whatnot.

Comment by Claire C. Cake

Claire: I must confess that my modern musical experience has been limited. Pretty much anything post-Ethel Merman I’ve missed out on (as a child my favorite movie was White Christmas), but I suppose my Bollywood love more than compensates for it. But I do agree, that a lot of adaptations are going on today from Broadway to Hollywood. I’m increasingly finding myself bitter about it with the more disappointments I receive.

Comment by bookchronicle

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