‘Little Women of Orchard House’ set for Friday

Younger versions of the March sisters hug in solidarity during the play “Little Women of Orchard House” which opens at the Mid-Ohio Valley Players Theatre Friday. Pictured from left to right are Maeghan O’Neill, Olivia Wilson, Kenzie Smith and Lyanna Smith. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

MARIETTA — Dressed in period-style petticoats and ascots, a cast of 25 is prepared to present a theatrical take on the classic “Little Women” this weekend.

The play, “Little Women of Orchard House” by David Longest, takes the classic by Louisa May Alcott and utilizes Louisa as a character within the play, narrating life events which impacted and influenced her work.

“This play is a little different from ‘Little Women’ because it starts out with Louisa and her four sisters and shows the audience that she basically took from her life to create ‘Little Women,'” explained Director George “JR” Wells. “It helps the audience to make those connections.”

The Mid-Ohio Valley Players Theatre on Putnam Street opens the Youth Theatre production Friday at 7 p.m. and for this weekend only, will run the show again Saturday at the same time and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Laura Morris, 17, of Parkersburg, plays Louisa, as an older character who opens the play explaining how her writings were influenced by, but not biographical of her younger life.

From left to right are Ziza Stanley, Jenna Gibbs, Matteo Zoccatelli, Grace Arnold, Lyanna Smith, Maeghan O’Neill, Claire Mangiafico and Kenzie Smith, who appear in a party scene during the Mid-Ohio Valley Players production of “Little Women of Orchard House,” which opens Friday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

“Louisa is more of a mature character and I like all of the flashbacks and memories she gets to talk about and then I get to see on stage,” said Morris. “This is only the second play I’ve done, I’ve grown up in the military and moved around a lot. But when we moved back here I wanted to get involved in the MOVP. It’s just so much fun being able to play a character and be someone you’re not. You create an entire personality around them.”

That same feeling is shared by Julianna Stephens, 17, of Williamstown.

“You can be anyone you want to be and nothing else matters when you’re on stage,” said Stephens, who plays Louisa’s fictional equivalent, Jo March. “Whenever I step on stage it’s my favorite feeling in the world.”

Of her character, Stephens said the emotion and movement are her favorites to act out.

“I feel like she’s very relatable,” she laughed. “Definitely my favorite scene is the fight between me and Amy.”

Connor Walker, 18, of Williamstown, plays both the father of Louisa May, Bronson Alcott, and his fictional equivalent Captain March.

“My school doesn’t have a theater program so I’m thankful to have one in the community to be a part of,” he said before dress rehearsal Tuesday. “It’s fun to be on stage, but most of all I love the community theater gives me.”

Walker’s first character, Alcott, is a bit of an idealist, opening the play talking of philosophy and teaching a love of learning. His second appears as a giving character, but is away serving in the Civil War.

As the war leaves his family with fewer funds than is comfortable the show touches on themes of poverty, family life and social class.

Tickets are available at the box office at 229 Putnam St., St. Marty’s Print Shop, or the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 241 Front St. Tickets for adults are $8 and for youth are $6.

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