On Sunday the 24th of June I attended a one-off concert performance of Steven Luke Walker’s adaption of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women. I knew the story of the March sisters through movie adaptions – I admit I’ve never gotten round to reading the actual novel, it’s on my to do list though!
However I had never come into contact with a musical adaption of the material so for me this was like experiencing a brand new show.
I very much enjoyed Steven Luke Walker’s songs. He has written some beautiful ballads for this musical which really capture the emotions in the story. Personally I would have liked a few more uptempo songs because as much as I loved the ballads I ended up thinking “There are SO many of them”. This is just a minor criticism though because all in all the score is simply beautiful.
Stand outs in the cast for me were the absolutely wonderful Gina Beck as Meg, Nikki Davis-Jones as Jo and Lisa-Anne Wood as Amy. I was especially surprised by Lisa-Anne who I had only seen as Cosette in Les Miserables so far. I admit I didn’t expect her to deliver the humor of her character so well. Lisa-Anne convinced me the moment she started singing. Her portrayal was spot on and even though this was just a concert performance she managed to bring her character to life.
I remember seeing Nikki as Chloe in the Take That musical Never Forget years ago. It was wonderful to see how far she has come since then. Currently stand by for Elphaba in Wicked she seemed to be an audience favourite (at least judging from the cheers she got whenever she was on stage). I really enjoyed her performance. A personal favourite has to be “The Critique”, a duet with Norman Bowman (Professor Bhaer).
Gina Beck brought heart and soul to her character and her voice suited the songs perfectly. The same goes for Sarah Lark who was absolutely wonderful as Beth. I’m pretty sure she would have me in tears in a full production of this show.
The rest of the cast did a fantastic job. Special mention for Norman Bowman, the fabulous German Scott – I still want to know what that first German sentence was supposed to mean though! I also loved seeing Daniel Boys on stage again. He has such a positive stage presence. Can we please get him back on stage in the West End sometime soon?
Sadly Samantha Barks wasn’t able to be there in the end. Maeve Byrne (supported by the fabulous GSA Choir) stepped in for her and sang “Once more” at the very end of the concert. And what treat that was. Make sure to watch out for her in the future!
The evening was hosted by Mark Shenton who lead the audience through the evening. Personally I think for someone who wasn’t familiar with Little Women it would have been a bit difficult to follow the story. But then this was advertised as a concert production so a bit of preparation by reading at least a synopsis of the story was a must anyway.
If I was to sum up the whole evening in one word it would be “delightful”. Hearing a great score sung by such amazingly talented people was a pure pleasure. It has definitely made me wish for a fully staged production of this show. I could imagine it in a theatre like the Trafalgar Studios or maybe one of the smaller West End theatres like the Gielgud Theatre.
Hopefully we will get to see more of Steven Luke Walker’s Little Women in the future. Although the story has been told a hundred times before this is a fresh approach which deserves to be seen by a wider audience.
Gina Beck: Meg
Helena Blackman: Belle Gardner
Norman Bowman: Professor Bhaer
Daniel Boys: Laurie
Nikki Davis-Jones: Jo
Sarah Lark: Beth
Shona Lindsay: Marmee
Jon Robyns: John Brooke
Lisa-Anne Wood: Amy
All proceeds of the evening went towards The Gingerbread Charity. Please check out there work at http://www.gingerbread.org.uk/.