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  Shoestring Theatre in Lake Helen will bring to life all the wonderful characters from Louisa May Alcott’s story Little Women when the musical adaption, Little Women, The Musical, opens Friday, Sept. 14.

With the book by Allan Knee, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein and music by Jason Howland, the original message of female empowerment is kept intact. Furthermore, they have added exhilarating music to produce the additional emotion that only music can create.

The beloved character Jo (played by Bernadette Siudock) dreams of becoming a writer in a male-dominated society and longs to be more (as expressed in the song “Astonishing”). Her three sisters, Meg (Tiffany Demps), Amy (Shiloh Villalobos) and Beth (Sophia Mercado), each with her own goals and personality, must face their own challenges on their journey to womanhood. Their relationship is the typical contrast of personalities, but all based on love (“Our Finest Dreams”).

Marmee (Robin Neil-Kitaif), as the center of the March family, portrays the strength required to keep the family together in the turbulent Civil War period when so many men were absent from home (“Here Alone”).

One of the songs (“Could You?”), performed by the formidable dowager Aunt March (Carlyn Langell), is a humorous view of the lengths Jo will go to in order to fit in with society so she can earn a trip to Europe.

Laurie (Ben Roberts), the grandson of their neighbor Mr. Laurence (Bob Sollien), is smitten by the outspoken Jo, and spends the summer trying to get noticed by her (“Take a Chance on Me”). His curmudgeon grandfather is not pleased to see his grandson involved with the March family until he meets Beth, who melts his cold heart (“Off to Massachusetts”).

Mr. Brooke (Aladdin Demps) is dashing and tender as he woos Meg (“More Than I Am”). The reserved and aloof German professor Fritz Bhaer (Michael Osowski) shows the life-changing effect the exuberant Jo brings about in so many lives she touches (“How I Am”). The cast is completed by Mrs. Kirk (Ava Kelley), the owner of the boardinghouse where Jo and professor Bhaer first meet.

The show runs the full gamut of emotions, and this cast of 11 talented actors will take you on a journey that will have you laughing, crying and cheering.

In the melodramatic portrayal of one of Jo’s stories, Volcano Press, Dickstein and Howland give all the performers a chance to overact, with hilarious results.

Director Anne Sollien is thrilled with the assembled cast, some of whom she has worked with for more than 25 years.

“The joy of theater is that you create a community where you have all these wonderful ingredients (actors) and you choose a new recipe (show) and you stir them up (rehearse) and you fashion a luscious dessert for the senses in the form of Little Women, The Musical,” Sollien said. “Each and every one of these performers is a jewel on the stage, and we are so blessed to have this talent right where we live.”

Music director Melissa Cargile always creates a stunning musical production and, with the talent on this stage, the results will be stellar.

Stage manager Lori Lemoine has the challenge of keeping the director on track and of choreographing the many set changes into one cohesive movement. Anyone who has experienced doing giant productions on little stages knows just how challenging that will be.

Shoestring loves being the community theater with professional results.

Join us for a performance your whole family will love, at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Sept. 14-15, 21-22, and 28-29, and at 2:30 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 16, 23 and 30.

Tickets cost $20 for adults, $18 for senior citizens, and $12 for students.

Call the box office for reservations at 386-228-3777, or buy online at www.shoestringtheatre.net. Shoestring Theatre is at 380 S. Goodwin St. in Lake Helen.

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