Every 10 years since what would have been Louisa May Alcott’s 100th birthday in 1932, the Concord Players honor their hometown author with a stage adaption of her beloved “Little Women.”
Alcott’s 190th birthday celebration was scheduled for last year, but the group postponed it by a year due to the pandemic. They’ll perform the 2005 Broadway musical version of “Little Women” April 28 through May 13 at their theater at 51 Walden St.
Alcott, as her legions of fans know, had deep ties to Concord: The Alcott family’s Orchard House, where she wrote and set “Little Women,” now functions as a museum about the family and the celebrated novel. She, her sister — Anna Alcott Pratt — and their friends founded the Concord Dramatic Union in 1857, which became the Concord Players in 1919.
“Little Women” follows the March sisters — Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth — as they grow up and learn about themselves while their father is off fighting in the Civil War. Alcott based it on her own life as one of four sisters, but she didn’t expect others to find the story interesting.
Katie Swimm, who is making her directorial debut with the Concord Players with this production, said she was looking to cast women who connected not just onstage but off — when they were laughing and talking in between scenes. The actors she chose captured the familial connection she was looking for.
“They seem to get along really well and have the same sort of sisterly banter that real sisters have, so it’s been really fun,” said Swimm.
Devin Bean — who previously played Philia in the Greater Boston Stage Company’s production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” — plays Jo. She traveled to Orchard House with the cast and sat at the desk where Alcott wrote the novel.
“Little Women” was one of Bean’s first “big kid” reads, and she always identified with Jo, she said.
“She’s headstrong. She’s determined,” said Bean. “She loves to be outside and write stories and adventures, and she’s got a wild imagination and really loves to put on these shows with her sisters.”
Laurie, the boy who falls in love with his best friend Jo, is played by Sean Donnelly who has also performed with the Hovey Players and Vokes Players among others. He described Laurie as “vibrant and curious and kind of odd.”
Donnelly said forming a bond with Bean came easily. “We did get the note at one point where, for our onstage relationship, we were just meeting and our director [told us] to tone down the friendship,” he said.
The cast includes two real life sisters: Samantha Casale, who plays Meg, and her older sister Amanda Casale, who is Jo’s understudy and an ensemble member. When they were children, Amanda was the first to read “Little Women” to Samantha.
“It was this sweet sisterly bond of ours,” said Samantha.
Ava Enoch, formerly a clown understudy in The Concord Players’ “The 39 Steps,” plays Beth, who dies in her early 20s. Aiden O’Neal plays youngest sister Amy, who acts out because she dislikes missing out on experiences her older sisters get to enjoy.
O’Neal said she liked that “The Greta Gerwig 2019 version of ‘Little Women’ changed a lot of people’s minds about Amy,” and admitted it was daunting to create her own version of a character adapted so many times.
“I hope that the community feels that we’ve honored the history of Louisa May Alcott in Concord, of her story, of her place in the the American narrative,” said Swimm. “I hope that they feel like it is their story also.”
Through May 13. $28. The Concord Players, 51 Walden St., Concord. concordplayers.org. A portion of proceeds will support the Louisa May Alcott Orchard House.
Maddie Browning can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.