Publisher: Elizabeth Hurd

“Little Women” An Inspirational Theatrical Delight for the Holidays

Caitlin Cairns as Jo March with David Burkhart as her admirer, Theodore Laurence, (Laurie). Photo courtesy of April Porterfield

Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” is a story beloved by readers for over 150 years.  The story, as narrated by aspiring writer Josephine March is about the lives of the March family.  The four daughters of Mr. and Mrs. March are Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy.  Their story begins during a time of great upheaval in this country, the civil war.  Life 150 years ago is very different from now, and yes, in that respect the tale is somewhat dated, but the events in the lives of these young women are timeless and universal.  In our modern age of technological advantages and enhanced freedom some things have certainly not changed, and these are the most important things in life.  We still love our families, we still have our hearts broken, we still can mend those hearts with love and we still suffer the anxieties of growing up and finding our place in the world.  This is why “Little Women” has become such a beloved piece of literature striking solidly at the hearts of every reader with profoundly hopeful delight.

3rd Act Theatre is presenting the adaptation of “Little Women” by Scott Davidson this December 3, through December 19, 2021.  The play begins on a cold and dreary Christmas Eve during the Civil War where the March family are facing a Christmas without their beloved husband and father who is away as an Army Chaplain for the Union.  “Little Women” is an inspired choice for the Christmas holidays. The bitter Massachusetts winter is hard, but the family perseveres and though they have no presents they still take their Christmas breakfast to a needy family.  Their mother, called Marmee by the girls, must leave as Chaplain March has developed pneumonia, and the four girls are left in the care of Hannah, the family retainer who is as beloved to the family as any blood relative.  The four young women are wise for their age, but nevertheless the transition between childhood security and adult responsibilities is hard.  Today teenagers must take the time to ‘find themselves’ and in centuries past that is still true, although modern teens are often less respectful to their elders.

Josephine March is much like Louisa May Alcott herself as “Little Women” is quite autobiographical.  She takes solace in her writing.  Meg is the eldest and quite competent but struggles with vanity.  Beth expresses herself beautifully in her music, her skills on the piano are comforting for everyone.  The impish Amy, youngest girl in the family is always sketching and dreams of becoming an artist.  The girls become friendly with their wealthy neighbor, Mr. Laurence whose grandson, Theodore Laurence becomes a great companion to all of them.  This kind young man, called ‘Laurie’ is especially close to Jo, while his tutor, John Brooke admires the beautiful Meg.  The young women are all well behaved young ladies as was expected during that era although Jo has a great deal of trouble with Aunt March.  The irascible Aunt March has wealth and privilege but her advantages have not alleviated her sour and crochety demeanor.  This coming-of-age story is actually rather unremarkable and therefore absolutely universal.

James Copelan as John Brooke wooing Jillian Wheeler as Meg March. Photo courtesy of April Porterfield

Jamie Brewster directs “Little Women” with understanding and sensitivity.  Clearly, she remembers her own period of growing up.  She is assisted in directing by James Tyra.  Perhaps the two of them are such a strong directing team because they are also a life-team as a married couple. They both have a great understanding of the human condition, and as a result “Little Women” is an excellent example of community theatre at it’s best.  Not perfection, but absolutely perfect understanding is revealed by the actors in this heartwarming production.

The cast of ten is led by Caitlin Cairns who plays Jo, the narrator of the story.  Josephine March is the second daughter of four and the tomboy of the bunch.  She is also a headstrong, intelligent girl with the gift of writing.  She tells the story of her family beginning with the Christmas that these four young women experienced first hand the truest meaning of Christmas in the spirit of giving and sharing.  Cairns reveals the Jo that we always wanted to be: she is smart, talented, outgoing and independent in a time when girls were always expected to be demure.  Her appearance is not as important to her as it is to the other girls, and she is not considered the pretty one.  That makes her aspect all the more fascinating.  Her older sister, Meg is an elegant beauty with a bit of vanity tempered by common sense, and Jillian Wheeler brings her to life with skill.  We can quickly see how close these two girls are and how protective they are of their younger siblings.  The two younger girls are played by Pallas Johnson as Beth and Zoë Parkinson as Amy.  One can immediately see the ethereal nature of the shy Beth and the exuberant joy of the irrepressible Amy in their characterizations. 

Mother, ‘Marmee’ is played with great strength by Rosemary Orwig-Rodgers.  Rodgers is adept at creating the ideal loving wife and mother who understands her children.  Her calm encouragement for all her children to follow their hearts is not indicative of the perceived reality of the time period however, it is an example of the actual attitudes any good mother of any time frame would have.  Marmee deals with her everyday mundane tragedies with admirable grace and Rodgers creates a very comforting atmosphere for the audience.  Playing opposite her as Mr. March is Chris Rodgers.  The two certainly embody a very loving couple making a loving home.  Another married couple in the cast–perhaps playing a married couple is easy when the actors actually are a married couple, but it certainly is perfect casting.

David Burkhart is the lonely young man who is fascinated with the excitement of a big family next door.  He falls in love with the family, particularly with Jo who is close to him in age and is an inspiration for him.  Their friendship is enduring, and his love is all-encompassing although ultimately, it is the younger sister Amy who captures his heart much to the joy of Jo.  His exuberance is tempered by his tutor, himself still a young man called John Brooke.  Brooke is played by James Copelan with maturity combined with his own youthful dreams.  From the beginning his admiring glances toward the beautiful Meg are quite apparent. 

Lilli Bassett as Aunt March along with her nephew Mr. March. Photo courtesy of April Porterfield

Two of the most enjoyable characters are very important to the March family.  Lilli Bassett portrays the curmudgeonly, rather crusty wealthy Aunt March with exactly the right touch of irascibility, lack of understanding masking her obvious loving obligation to family.  Chris Spencer Harris has been a favorite of Oklahoma City audiences for many years always developing interesting and lovable characters.  She shows us Hannah, the old family retainer with wit, humor and a delightfully graceless grace.

“Little Women” is stage managed by Don Taylor with Christine Jolly as his angel stage manager.  Taylor also is set designer.  Dakota Lee Bryant designs the sound and Amandanell Bold the lighting.  Director Jaime Brewster costumes the show and Zander Rodgers is the essential stage hand.  Deanna Brouillette is Board Liaison, a recently important but often overlooked function.

“Little Women” shows at 3rd Act Theatre December 3, through December 19, 2021 and is an ideal family-oriented Christmas show.  Curtain is 8:00 pm Friday and Saturday and there is also a 2:30 Sunday matinee.  The Sunday December 19 performance will be live streamed only.  For tickets and information contact 3rd Act online at Or call 405-593-8093.  3rd Act Theatre is located in the Shoppes at Northpark Mall at 12040 N. May Avenue in Oklahoma City. 

Cast of “Little Women” at 3rd Act Theatre. Seated from left are James Copelin as John Brooke, Lilli Bassett as Aunt March, Zoë Parkinson as Amy, Rosemary Orwig-Rodgers as Marmee, and Pallas Johnson as Beth. Standing is David Burkhart as Laurie, Jillian Wheeler as Meg, Chris Rodgers as Mr. March, Caitlin Cairns as Jo and Chris Spencer Harris as Hannah. Photo courtesy of April Porterfield