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Drama students present a superb ‘Little Women’

The stage at Heritage Hall was transformed this past Saturday evening to a small town in New England during the Civil War. The Johnson County High School Drama Department gave an outstanding performance based on the old yet still beloved book, Little Women, written by Louisa May Alcott. The performers, under the direction of Lisa Zeggert, Kelsey Yongue and Matney Plyler, transported the audience back to a time of turmoil in our country’s history with their performance of Little Women, a drama adapted by Marisha Chamberlain.
The play opens with Jo, one of the four March sisters, declaring herself the man of the house now that their father is away from home as a chaplain in the Union Army. Although they themselves live in poverty, the girls, led by their mother, Marmee, share what they have with others less fortunate than themselves. As Christmas approaches, the girls arre busy with their own play production, written by Jo March herself. Jo, very much a tomboy, doesn’t have any use for boys as she declares “marriage is the worst thing” and “you might as well be dead.” Jo rebels against society’s views of women of their time as the eldest sister, Meg, gently reminds her, “You must remember you are a lady.”
Meg and Jo, along with their younger sisters, Beth and Amy, await the return of their mother to begin their Christmas festivities. Although they have very little money, each of the girls spent their Christmas dollar to buy their mother small presents, some slippers, gloves, a handkerchief and some cologne. Amy, who aspires to be an artist, declares she really wanted to buy herself some new art supplies but decided to spend the money on a gift for her mother. As they sit down to dinner prepared by their servant, Hannah, the family discovers the Hummels, who live nearby, have no food for Christmas. With generous hearts, the girls and Marmee bring their Christmas meal to the Hummel family.
Mr. Laurence, a neighbor of the March family, discovers they have given away their Christmas dinner and shows up with food just as the performance of Jo’s play has begun. He brings with him his nephew, Laurie, and his tutor, Mr. John Brooke. Mr. Laurence often listens to Beth play the piano as he sits near the window in his nearby home. The girls soon become fast friends with Laurie, especially Jo. Laurie acquires tickets to the theater and invites both Meg and Jo to be his guests. Amy, although 12 years old, becomes upset that she was not included in the trip to the theater. Amy is prone to throwing tantrums when she does not get her way. As Laurie, Meg and Jo take off for the evening, a petulant Amy sits and sulks, promising herself she will get back at Jo for not allowing her to join the group. Jo, an avid writer, has just proudly finished a collection of short stories. Amy, in a fit of rage, throws the entire book into the fireplace, destroying Jo’s work.
It does not take long once Jo returns home to discover that Amy has been up to no good. Running upstairs, Jo opens the trunk full of her writing and discovers her book of short stories is missing. Realizing the book was destroyed, a sobbing Jo declares, “I’ll never forgive you.”
Laurie, in an attempt to console Jo, takes her outside to go ice skating. Amy soon follows, even though she was told to stay at home. Not long after, Laurie and Jo come running back to the house with a soaking wet Amy. Amy had followed the skaters out onto the ice and had fallen through. Jo, devastated at the thought of how close they had come to losing Amy, quickly makes up with her younger sister.
John Brooke delivers a telegram to Mrs. March, informing her that her husband, who was on the front lines, has taken ill. As Marmee rushes to her ailing husband, Jo runs out of the house, quickly returning home with $25 in hand she had earned from cutting her long hair. While Marmee is gone, the Hummel family becomes ill. Beth spends time helping the family who is stricken with scarlet fever. While Beth is tending to one of the young children, the child dies. Coming home feeling sick, Beth soon admits she was exposed to scarlet fever. As Amy is now the only one in the house who has never had scarlet fever, she is sent over to Aunt March’s house to keep her from contracting the disease.
Laurie delivers letters back and forth between the girls so they can continue to communicate with each other. While Amy is at Aunt March’s house, she decides to write her Last Will and Testament, much to the amusement of her siblings. A mischievous Laurie decides to play tricks on Meg and begins writing letters to her posing as John Brooke. Meg and John soon realized they were attracted to each other, even though Meg was only 16.
Marmee comes back from nursing her husband back to health to find Beth gravely ill. As Beth lay dying, Jo pleads with her not to go, to please not die. In an emotional and outstanding deliverance, Karissa Kirsch, who plays the part of Jo, sobs as she cries out to her mother and sister that Beth is gone. On her deathbed, Jo had promised Beth she would stay at home, give up her wild ways and help take care of her parents.
Mr. March returns home to his family from the war. He quickly realizes Jo is troubled. Upon revealing that she had promised Beth she would give up her dreams of writing and stay at home, Mr. March helps Jo realize she has her own life to live. “Jo, what about your writing?” Mr. March asks his daughter.
Laurie admits to Jo that he is in love with her. He clarifies that it is love “with a capital ‘L’.” Jo admits she loves Laurie, but “not with a capital ‘l’.” Asking her to marry him, Laurie is crushed when Jo says she cannot say yes at this time.
The Johnson County High School Drama Department delivered a delightful and professional presentation of Little Women this past Saturday night. It was obvious that each of the students involved in the production of the play, from the lead part of Jo March to the dancers at the ball to the backstage crew had spent a lot of time perfecting their performances and duties. The audience smiled, cried and laughed along with these young performers. A lot of time and effort was expended by these talented students to deliver such a delightful and outstanding performance. These students are an asset to both Johnson County High School and their community.
If you missed this weekend’s production of Little Women, there will be another chance to enjoy the talents of another group of local performers. Next weekend, Friday, January 28th and Saturday, January 29th, 2011, the Johnson County Young Artists will present Annie Jr., a musical adapted for young performers, at Heritage Hall. Contact Heritage Hall for ticket purchase information.