by Melanie Leach
“I like good strong words that mean something” – Jo March, Little Women
This is the cover of the copy of Little Women I read as a girl. I loved this story and read it multiple times. Imagine my horror when I got it back out as an adult to read it with my book club and realized that I had only read a “modern abridged” version. I quickly remedied that by getting a “complete and unabridged” copy of the book and gobbling it up. I am not sure why anyone would feel they had to make this book “modern” or abridged. The story of these sisters is just as compelling and relevant as it was in the 1860s. The language is accessible and the full version of the story includes many spiritual truths and shows the process of maturity in each of the girls. These young women are full of pride, foolishness, forgiveness and love and I absolutely adore it!
I must admit that I can be a bit protective about what people do with my favorite stories. Jo March, Mary Lennox, Anne Shirley, Laura Ingalls and Sara Crewe and I spent many an hour together and they are friends to me. I have been disappointed many a time as people attempt to make these classic stories more edgy or “realistic”. It has at times even seemed disrespectful to these female authors who used strong words to address things that are still with us – poverty, class structures, grief, longing to accomplish something important. So – what about Little Women, The Broadway Musical? Well, you can’t include everything in a 400-page book in a couple of hours. However, the musical version of Little Women does much to capture the essence of the March family, particularly by showing the way that imagination and stories can bring joy and hope amid great difficulty. We also get a glimpse of Marmee’s struggle to be strong for her girls in the absence of her husband and in the wake of her daughter’s death. The music is lovely – and it will make you laugh and cry. However, the best thing I could ever say about a musical is that it inspires me to read the book – and the book inspires me to listen to the music. This cycle is what adapting something well is all about. Read the book – see the show – sing the songs – read the book. After all, a garret in Concord, Massachusetts is a wonderful place to spend part of your summer.
The WordPlayers Presents: Little Women, The Broadway Musical, July 14-16. For details, including ticket information, please click here.