Just say the words "Little Women" and most people's minds will immediately jump to the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott. This is just what director Christopher Alleman and technical director Scott Porter hoped to use to draw in audiences to experience the latest play put on by the Summit High School performing arts department.
"It's a classic, a story that has been read by everyone," said Alleman, who is also the artistic director of the Lake Dillon Theatre. "It was the story that first attracted us. It's a fun story to tell."
For those unfamiliar, "Little Women" features the story of the March family, particularly the four sisters ,Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy , as they grow from children into young women during the late 1800s.
"They've been wonderful," Alleman said of the cast, which consists of 10 main members and 17 actors in total. "They've worked hard."
Rehearsal started in January and continued all the way up to opening day. Time is always a challenge, Alleman said, particularly with the winter break interrupting rehearsals and all of the actors being heavily involved in school and school sports and activities.
"Our biggest challenge is time," he said. "A lot of these actors have great motivation and lots of ambition and lots of raw talent."
While the high school auditorium can hold up to 750 people, Alleman and Porter decided to bring the audience in closer, with seating right up on the stage, only a few feet from the actors. Each showing has 100 seats available.
"We like to put it on the stage and create more of an intimacy, with a black box style of theater," Porter said.
Even in rehearsal, the enthusiasm of the actors is catching as they work to get their blocking just right and nail down any remaining tricky lines.
"It's fun to play something that you aren't usually in real life, that's my favorite part," said senior Jane Anderson, who plays Amy March, the youngest sister. She said she's read the book and is basing her character off her own sister.
"I based her off of my little sister, because my little sister is kind of sassy like that," Anderson said.
Junior Danny Daigle, who plays Laurie, one of the only men in the play, said he's looking to Victorian era books for character motivation.
"I've always said if I could live in any other time period, I want it to be the late 1800s, around when this story's taking place," he said. Of his character, "he's definitely a free spirit and I feel like I am pretty similar in that way so it's not too much work; it's really just a change of clothes."
Heather Gutekunst, also a junior, has two parts as Aunt March and Meg's understudy and has enjoyed the challenge.
"I really enjoyed learning two parts, because it really immerses me in the play," Gutekunst said.
When asked what the audience can expect from the play, she said, "I think that they can expect a really wide range of emotions and that it will make you laugh and cry. It will make you feel happy and sad, and I think that's what the author intended originally, to have you feel all this and put yourself in these roles."
She finished her explanation in a rush and a few seconds later was on stage at rehearsal, embodying the character of Aunt March, delivering dialogue with a haughty shrug and pointed glare.
The play runs until Sunday, with showings tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., with two matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are available through Summit High School in advance or at the door and cost $5 for students and $10 for adults.