April 19, 2008
I had tickets to see “Little Women, The Musical” at the Harwich Junior Theater the weekend it was to open, on March 29. There were actually four events I wanted to attend that night, including the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra with cellist Rhonda Rider, baritone John Murelle singing songs of the Gershwin brothers, and a jazz guitar concert at Johnson String Instrument.
I chose “Little Women” because I thought the play review would be of most interest to readers of the Enterprise. We found another reviewer for John Murelle’s performance: Zachary Rothstein-Dowden, a high school senior, cellist and vocalist, who did an outstanding job on the review. I knew I would hear John sing the next day at a reception by the Mastersingers by the Sea. He would be singing the main role in their performance of Haydn’s “The Creation” the following week, accompanied by members of the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra. It’s all interconnected. David MacKenzie conducts both groups.
So, I decided to go see “Little Women.” Then Dr. MacKenzie called to offer me tickets to the New Bedford Symphony performance. His first instrument was the cello, and he knows I play the cello too, and, of course, the soloist that night was a cellist. I waivered, thinking, that if I went to the Symphony, I could also squeeze in the Johnson String performance, which was at 5:30 PM, and then head out to New Bedford. Johnson String, in Falmouth, is managed by a cellist.
No one I knew was free to attend “Little Women” with me, so I finally set out alone, on that stormy night, just me and my GPS system. I know how to get to the Harwich Junior Theater, but it is comforting to have the little machine telling me my estimated time of arrival, saying, in effect, “calm down, you’ll get there in plenty of time.”
And I did. The only problem was that the show was canceled due to the illness of the star player. There I was in Harwich, at 7:30, 60 miles from New Bedford, where the symphony would start at 8. I thought about stopping at the Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center in Hyannis on my way home, where “The Wizard of Oz” was playing, thinking I could see at least part of that incredible production, but, in the end, I just drove home.
So, last night, I finally, and somewhat reluctantly, found time to go out to Harwich to see “Little Women.” It was absolutely wonderful, from beginning to end, well sung, well written, and well directed and produced. Caitlin Mills, as Jo, is outstanding, especially as an actress, but also as a singer. Her performance was well-worth waiting for. But this is a production is which all the actors are wonderful, and even the minor characters have brilliant moments. The set was beautiful, the costumes were lovely.
There was also a talented quartet of musicians–flute, violin, cello, and piano–behind the scenes, accompanying both spoken words and singing. And the cello had some nice solos. My only complaint is that the quartet was behind the scenes, and their sound was distorted a bit in the amplification. I know there is limited space in the small HJT theater, but it would have been nice to see the musicians (they did not even come out for a curtain call), and to hear their music a little more clearly.
I will write a more complete review for the Enterprise soon, but, in the meantime, go see the play. You can’t help but enjoy it.