By ED FRANKS
Friday evening, at Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, about 200 Pine Islanders (and a number of people from surrounding communities) enjoyed the premier performance of the play "Little Women." The newly formed Pine Island Playhouse made its debut with the American literature classic.
Left to right, top, Rebecca Rose as Meg, Isabella Sansone as Amy and Nichole Pichon as Jo; and seated, Karla Arceneaux as Marmee and Domonic Kupersmith as Beth.
Written by Louisa May Alcott in 1868, the story is about the March family, living in New England during the Civil War. Mr. March has gone off to serve in the Union Army as a chaplain, leaving his wife and four daughters at home.
Nichole Pichon played the part of the central character, 14-year-old daughter Jo. A strong, willful young woman, Jo is surrounded by her three sisters, Meg, 16, (Rebecca Rose); Beth, 13, (Domonic Kupersmith); and Amy, 12 (Isabella Sansone); and her mother "Marmee" (Karla Arceneaux).
The opening scene begins at Christmastime with the girls talking about things they would like for Christmas: gowns, books and other expensive gifts the family can ill afford.
Next door is wealthy Mr. Lawrence (Jim Schiavone), a stern man living with his grandson Laurie (Jacque Jennings). Laurie and Jo become close friends as the lives of the two families blend together.
The girls go through trials, Jo's father is wounded and the death of sister Beth, along with the usual sisterly spats, but the message that comes through is one of a strong family bond.
As the girls grow up, Jo laments, "Why does everyone have to grow up? Why does everything have to change? Why can't it stay the same way things were and we would be this happy?" she fusses.
"Little Women" is a delightful show for all ages.
Additional cast members included Mrs. Gardner (Nancy Benjamin), Robert March (Ron Arceneaux), John Brooke (Paul Pichon) and Aunt Josephine March (Ann Sansone).
Pichon began preparing for opening night months before and auditions were held over a course of several weeks. Adapting the two-hour play from the book to meet the time constraints of a play offered several challenges for Pichon.
"It's a little challenging," she said. "To span 15 years in two hours is no easy task."
And yet Pichon somehow managed to make the story comprehensible and easy to follow.
With just 11 actors, five production crew members, a donated and borrowed set, and a very small budget, Pichon and crew put together a professional production. The characters were believable, the story line made sense and the acting excellent.
Two thumbs up for the first Pine Island Playhouse production. Islanders have much to look forward to in future productions.