The fight for gender equality is not new. A hundred and fifty-one years ago a young woman by the name of Louisa May Alcott was considering a world without the traditional constraints of womanhood – a world where she could be a writer and support herself and where her sisters could thrive and decide their futures. Alcott penned Little Women, a novel informed by her own life that soon became a literary sensation and that, to this day, has kept a loyal readership. It has also been produced for theater and film multiple times.

A new adaptation is now performing at the Sierra Madre Playhouse (SMP), this time the work of SMP’s Artistic Director, Christian Lebano. It’s also the first co-production between SMP and the California School for the Arts – San Gabriel Valley (CSArts-SGV), where the young actors performing in the play are currently learning.

There are four adults that act in every performance, and a double cast of youthful actors that share the roles of the young characters in the story. Depending on when you attend, you may see the Hillside Cast, as I did, or you may see the Orchard Cast. Even though the dialogue is long, due to its age often complicated, and at times delivered at great speed, these youngsters did it with minimal hiccups. I found Annika Bolton particularly perfect for her role.

Lebano’s adaptation stays close to the language and to the essence of the novel. It’d been many years since I’d read Little Women (in my case actually “Mujercitas” – this book has been translated to over 50 languages) and watching the play brought up both nostalgic memories of my years as a young reader, and a desire to read the book again. I found Little Women at SMP heartwarming and adorable, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Little Women performs Thursday through Sunday until Nov. 3. Tickets are $30 general / $25 seniors (65+) / $15 youth 17 years old and under, available at sierramadreplayhouse.org or by calling (626) 355-4318.

SMP is located at 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre CA 91024. Parking is free.

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