‘Little Women’ sends powerful message about gender roles

The curtains opened in the Cosford Cinema for the first performance of the CaneStage Theatre Company production, “Little Women,” on Dec. 7.

CaneStage is a theater club under the umbrella of Hurricane Productions. Unlike the Ring Theatre, the club’s cast, director, actors and live band are all students and have organized the play themselves.

“Little Women” is a family drama that follows the life of a girl named Jo and her three sisters during the Civil War. Jo, an aspiring writer, is torn between her love of adventure and fitting into the societal norms her aunt and mother try to force on her.

Each of the four sisters, Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth, face heartache and adventures together as they teeter on the brink of womanhood.

Briana Earhart, a senior theater arts major, was cast as Amy and felt a deep connection to her role and the play.

“I think this play is timeless,” Earhart said. “The message is so sweet. If you continue to pursue your passion, you can accomplish anything, even if hardship comes. Sometimes when you dream, your dreams come true.”

The production of “Little Women” was accompanied by a live band that played the soundtrack as all of the actors performed their songs.

The band played emotional ballads as well as upbeat songs. “I’d Be Delighted” was one of the plays more up-tempo songs, while “Some Things Are Meant To Be” was slower and more emotional.

Melissa D’Albora, a masters composition major, was one of the violists in the band of the play. She has participated in a CaneStage production before, previously performing in “Into the Woods.”

“I always prefer live music,” D’Albora said. “I actually think it’s easier for the singers because now they can take their time with their lyrics and be more expressive.”

The exceptional singing and great instrumentals kept the themes of the 1869 novel lively and contemporary.

The girls’ Aunt March is a traditionalist who constantly criticizes Jo for her lack of “sophistication in society.” The sisters are constantly torn between their personal desires and the expectations of their mother, aunt and older neighbor.

Brielly Roy, a masters of professional science graduate student, played Meg, one of the sisters. She said this play was very important for young women to see and understand today because of its emphasis on women having the right to go out into the world and follow their ambitions. This is something Roy learned the hard way when she experienced double standards as a STEM student.

People shouldn’t try to stop us from not falling into those gender norms and traps,” Roy said. “I’ve experienced those kinds of persecutions myself, and it is really disheartening. But to see a story such as ‘Little Women’ and see Jo March go out there and pursue her dreams and goals and become a writer is phenomenal. I am so blessed to be able to bring that message to our audiences.”

The audience had a positive response to the performance. Kelsey Blackstone, an audience member and a theater arts major, was surprised and happy to see the gender roles dominate the discussion, given the current national discourse.

The last chance to see Little Women at the Cosford Cinema is on Dec. 10. at 2 p.m.