This weekend, the Department of Musical Theatre will portray the epic saga of a family mired in the turmoil of the Civil War in its latest production of the musical “Little Women.”

Little Women

Today at 8 p.m., tomorrow at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Arthur Miller Theatre
From $10

The show is based on Louisa May Alcott’s famous novel, which was published in two parts in 1868 and 1869. It follows the lives of four New England sisters — Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy — as they encounter the difficulties of life and love while dealing with the burden of a father whose life is in constant jeopardy in the war.

The musical resembles the book, with some details excluded by time constraints. The original production had a run on Broadway in 2005 and featured School of Music, Theatre & Dance alum Danny Gurwin as Laurie. Gurwin, who is directing this MT&D production, will share his knowledge of the show’s intricacies with the student actors he directs.

“Besides being an energetic and enthusiastic director, he really loves the piece because he’s been with it through many, many incarnations,” said MT&D senior Ali Gordon. “He’s taken his knowledge of all (his) productions … and he’s sort of brought them all to the table at this one great production of ‘Little Women.’ ”

Though “Little Women” is characterized by the ubiquitous themes of family, loyalty and love, Alcott did not portray these themes from a masculine angle, but rather from the viewpoint of the oldest March sister, Jo. The author, who Gordon describes as a “proto-feminist,” allows her female characters to make their own choices rather than depending on the wishes of the men in their lives.

Older women may relate to the struggle of the mother Marmee, who attempts to raise her children in the absence of her husband, and younger siblings may connect to the troubles of Amy, as everything she owns is handed down to her from her older sisters.

“It’s still read so widely today and adapted so widely into musicals and operas and movies because people see these relationships and find that they mirror their own lives so truthfully,” said Gordon, who plays the youngest March sister, Amy. “I still see some of myself in this young girl.”

MT&D junior Jane Bruce said the show’s theme of family gives it a timeless nature.

“Ultimately that’s what we all come from, and always have,” she said.

Bruce, who plays Jo, said she was able to draw parallels between her character and college students like herself.

“(Students) are dealing with the struggles of love and finding your passions in life,” Bruce said. “And how you decide what to do and finding that balance between being independent and living the life you always wanted to live and staying true to your roots.

“It’s something I know, in college, I’ve certainly battled with and tried to figure out in the same way Jo has.”

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