Little Women, Bog Theatre, at Prairie Lakes Community Center. The story of the four March sisters coming of age in Civil War-era New England has been told well and often on stage and screen. In fact, before seeing this production, it was unclear to me why playwright David Fielding Smith thought another adaptation was necessary. Much of the first act feels like an episode of The American Girls Revue, with the foursome fretting over inadequate party dresses and accusations of un-Christian or (God forbid) unladylike behavior. By the evening's end, though, it's clear that Smith has discovered aspects of each girl that have gone unnoticed, or at least have been underdeveloped, in previous renditions.
The tale is told by sister Jo, a headstrong tomboy and passionate aspiring writer; Tracy Louise Sellers shows great energy and focus in the dual role of narrator and principal character. Sellers and Kimberly Jenkins as the spoiled Amy are the initial standouts, but Michelle Ann Mueller as Meg and Molly Anna Jones as Beth emerge from the shadows to deliver touching, softspoken responses to love, death, and other significant events.
The sets, costumes, musical score, and characterizations are all consistently understated, mirroring the simplicity of the family's life. This austere but unencumbered approach also enables the Bog Theatre to present the entire story, which takes place in several locations. Generally speaking this production shows intelligence, emotional integrity, and attention to detail, which make the sisters' tale worth seeing one more time.