By Victoria Weaver
The University of Tampa’s theatre department launches its third on-stage production since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This time, however, the department is putting on a full fledged musical as opposed to a concert style review or variety show. The show, Little Women will be open for all viewers on Thursday, April 15 through Sunday, April 18.
Little Women is a Broadway musical based upon the novel of the same name by Luisa May Alcott. It tells the story of four sisters that have to navigate through the obstacles of life in the midst of the Civil War. It is a classic story that has been told again and again in all different mediums and has been most recently popularized by its latest film adaptation.
This show isn’t just for students of the arts to enjoy. Director Micheal Staczar, theatre professor and assistant dean at UT, said Little Women holds a central message anyone can relate to about the importance of family.
“The show depicts the impact of the Civil War on the family dynamic and our need to be protective of the ones we hold near and dear,” said Staczar. “For today’s audience, COVID-19 has had the same impact.”
Because the show is attempting to run as it would have before the pandemic, while also wearing masks, the cast and crew have made sure to strictly follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. The work places get sanitized before and after use including the changing rooms and the cast even made an agreement to stay as safe as possible so they could maintain realistic physical action when performing to not ruin audience immersion.
The masks do take away from facial expressions, an important aspect in acting. This drawback pushes the actors to work harder to convey their emotions and intentions to the audience. As with most art, limitations bring out creativity. Moments that have been made impossible due to COVID-19, such as important kiss scenes have been altered in a way that still works for the story but with a little extra twist to keep it interesting.
The set has even been modified to be composed of wagons and wheels that can be simply rolled on and off the stage between scenes. This ensures that contact between the cast and the stage crew is limited, keeping the environment controlled.
Little Women is a show focused on realism and family, human connection is as important in this show as it is in our current national situation. The actors have worked hard to build chemistry on and off the stage to make the connections as real as possible.
“We’re all so close,” said Meghan Horrigan, a senior musical theatre major who plays Meg March in the show. “Our friendship is really making the show great.”
Stage manager Cara Percoco, a sophomore theatre and communications major, said that production has been going very well, the show being almost entirely off the book earlier than expected and actors working hard to learn their lines and music as soon as they get them, meaning the production will be very stable by tech week. Hopefully resulting in an unwavering opening night.
The cast and crew are all looking forward to people coming out and enjoying the production they have worked so hard on this past semester. Shows like these allow students to display their talents while also allowing the school to take another step towards normalcy.