Little Women at Hope Mill Theatre
Hope Mill is such a wonderful venue! It provides the perfect venue for inspirational, ground-breaking theatre. With recent productions transferring to London, it is a delight that owners Joseph Houston and William Whelton introduce new work, as well as forgotten classics, to their Manchester audience.
Their latest musical production (with a score written by Grammy Award winner Jason Howland) is the European premiere of Little Women based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel following the adventures of the four March sisters. Jo, the second eldest of the daughters and an aspiring writer, receives yet another rejection from a publisher. Her friend, Professor Bhaer, tells Jo she can do better by making her stories more personal. Begrudgingly, Jo weaves the story of how she and her sisters (Meg, Beth and Amy) grew up in Civil War America – a tale of self-discovery, heartache, hope and everlasting love.
Hope Mill Theatre cannot always get it right and Little Women does not stand up to the quality of previous productions. The script attempts to cover as much of the book as it can within the confines of an acceptable performance length, but takes on too much too fleetingly and never develops the characters. As a result, they have little personality and do not gel – leading to a lack of any emotional attachment to them.
The score is pleasant and there are some strong performances from Anna Stolli as Marmee and Cathy Read as Beth. The staging makes good use of the space and there are a couple of pleasant moments around the piano and on the rowboat. However, this felt a long evening with some very clunky scenery moments.
An exciting season has been announced for 2018, which I’m really looking forward to!
By Dean Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online
Hope Mill Theatre, Pollard Street, Ancoats: Nov 10th – Dec 9th 2017 book here.