Behind the Scenes of Little Women
By Johnna Padvaiskas
Lights, camera, action!
Methuen High School’s Theater, also known as Stage Door 22, is putting on a production of Little Women for their winter play. The play is based on the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, and has had several movie adaptations, with one coming out this Christmas starring Emma Watson and Meryl Streep.
Mrs. Walsh, who has been with Methuen High for five years, and a theater director for 20, gave a summary of the play.
“It is the play of four sisters and their mother surviving through the civil war in the North. It’s about the love of family and especially the love of sisterly bond. It’s really a coming-of-age story for all these women,” said Mrs. Walsh.
Now a play doesn’t just get picked at random. “I knew the movie was coming out, and we thought we might get some hype on that. We usually try to choose some kind of traditional play– not always crazy [or] fantastic, because we also as an educational institution should be teaching some of the classics,” explained Mrs. Walsh.
The main characters in the play are the four sisters Amy, Beth, Meg, and Jo, their mother Marmee, or Mrs. March, and Laurie the wealthy neighbor, who is a love interest for Jo.
Natalie Harkins, a sophomore who plays Jo, has many memories from Stage Door 22’s last winter performance of Alice in Wonderland. “I met most of my high school friends in here,” she told me.
When I asked her about how rehearsals were, Harkins explained that Stage Door 22 is one big family. “At rehearsals we try to be serious, so we goof off because we’re a family but we always get it back together. It helps you de-stress after a long day.”
“I’m nervous for the play but I am excited to do it as well. I’m scared, but I think we’re going to put it together and it’ll be great,” exclaimed Harkins.
Mrs. Walsh explained more in detail what happens at a rehearsal. “A director will work with their cast on a bunch of different things. So character development is a big thing, and especially with this show we’re creating characters from the 1860s North. So we’ll do a lot of character work, a lot of articulation work, a lot of voice work before we even get into what’s called blocking. Blocking is when actors learn where to go on stage. A typical rehearsal would entail ‘today were going to do scenes two, three, and four, in act two’ so everybody who’s in the scenes have to come to rehearsal.”
For Little Women, rehearsals have been only two days per week, but Mrs. Walsh believes that when the musical comes around rehearsals will have to be four days.
Little Women is also going to have a different look with settings than previous plays.
“We have three levels. We have the main level, then we have Beth’s bedroom, and then the attic is a little higher. We don’t usually do levels because we build it ourselves, but we wanted to challenge ourselves and we thought that we needed it to really set different locations because it’s crucial for the story line. We did it once with Beauty and the Beast but we had some help then. This is the first time we’ve done it really on our own,” said Mrs. Walsh. The crew also built their own set of stairs for this play.
To make sure the play runs smoothly there are five different groups, or disciplines: crew chief, costume crew chief, front office, lighting, and publicity. The director directs the show, and the producers pulls all the other pieces of production together. Mrs. Walsh is the producer for this production while Mandi Clifford, who used to go to MHS and is now a student at Salem State, came back to direct.
“I think the play is going really well. We don’t usually get big crowds so our goal is to get as many people as possible. The kids have learned a lot about history as well as gotten better at acting, input, and getting sets together which really is the goal, ” said Mrs. Walsh.
Mrs. Walsh and Stage Door 22 is also getting ready for the spring musical, Into the Woods.
“A lot of these kids did Into the Woods when they were in middle school. It’s nice when you can do a show that the kids kind of know, but now we can do a more mature version of it. Into the Woods is one of the most famous broadway plays that has ever been done. The music is complex so I like the challenge of that for the kids. It has a lot of cool solo parts,” explained Mrs. Walsh when I asked her why she picked Into The Woods for the school musical.
Auditions for Into The Woods are being held on January 6th and 7th. If students want more information they should sign up with Stage Door 22 or go see Mrs. Walsh in L021.
Tickets for students/seniors (60+) are $8 while tickets for adults are $10. You can get tickets at the show and online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com. Show times are Thursday, December 5, 2019 and Friday, December 6, 2019, at 7:00 p.m., and Saturday, December 7, 2019, at 2:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m.