MOVP Youth Theatre showcases “Little Women”

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Jo March and Laurie, played by Williamstown senior Julianna Stephens, left, and Marietta Christian senior DesMarteau, right, polka in the play "Little Women of Orchard House" which opens at the Mid-Ohio Valley Players Theatre Friday.

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.

“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.

“I hope the audience finds an entertaining, funny family show and that what they see is not a kids’ show but some fine actors on stage,” said Wells. “These kids really work hard and are producing a show that matches the adults and one that’s appropriate for all ages.”

He said even having his cast in period-appropriate costuming has influenced their caliber of acting.

“It was transformative, the boys really became their characters when that ascot and pin went in as a finishing touch, the girls had to learn how to walk and move all in these long skirts and petticoats,” Wells described.

Wells also had the pleasure of casting his exchange student from Italy, Matteo Zoccatelli, 17, in the play.

“That’s why we chose each other, for theater,” said Zoccatelli before rehearsal Tuesday. “I love theater, not only do you meet a lot of people but you have a lot of fun getting to be someone else.”

Zoccatelli plays two parts in the production, that of Mr. Moffat and Professor Bhaer.

Tickets are available at the box office at 229 Putnam St., St. Marty’s Print Shop, or the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at 241 Front St.

Tickets for adults are $8 and for youth are $6.

If you go

• What: “Little Women of Orchard House” by David Longest.

• When: Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.

• Where: Mid-Ohio Valley Players theater, 229 Putnam St.

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

Source: Mid-Ohio Valley Players.