Little Women: The Musical at Park Theatre: An interview with Savannah Stevenson
The latest stage adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic period drama is at Park Theatre – a musical, directed by Bronagh Lagan, with a score by Grammy award-winning Jason Howland. It’s a cosy and sweet affair, doing justice to the text whilst adding a fresh new musical element.
The Upcoming spoke to Savannah Stevenson, who discusses her experiences playing Marmee, the mother of the March sisters, working on the musical and the impact Little Women has on modern audiences.
What first drew you to the role of Marmee in this musical, and what was it like working with director Bronagh Lagan?
Marmee has a warmth and yet steeliness I felt very drawn to. It’s a beautiful role, she’s the emotional heart of the show really and I felt excited to discover her.
Bronagh has been a joy. She’s so great at guiding you through a process, setting perimeters, but allowing you so much freedom to explore. She’s one of my most favourite creatives I’ve ever worked with.
Were there any parts that you found particularly challenging?
Marmee experiences the loss of a child during the story, and that can be a very draining place to go to night after night. She does, however, sing Days of Plenty, which is an emotional release full of strength that I find very helpful to pull out of any “emotional well” I could fall into personally.
What were your most beloved moments from the novel and the musical?
I’m actually rather new to both. I didn’t grow up with the novel and so reading it through this process has been really helpful. I love the music in this show, it really enhances the emotional arc of the story – such a mix of styles. it’s a very entertaining score, but one that pulls on the heartstrings at just the right moments.
Do you have a favourite adaptation?
The only adaptation I’ve seen is the recent Greta Gerwig film version, so I suppose other than the musical I have to say that one! In all seriousness though, I really loved it. It plays a lot with the timeline of the story, as our show does too, and I think it’s a really effective way of storytelling.
What do you hope modern audiences will take away from this production?
I hope they will firstly be entertained. As much as some moments are heartbreaking, there are many laughs and lighter moments. I hope our audiences will leave feeling like they’ve had an immersive experience in the intimate setting of the Park Theatre.
What was the last play that inspired you?
One of the last things I saw before lockdown was Come from Away. I adored it: a heartwarming story, delivered by a most talented cast. I’ve had a baby since then, so getting to see new work since theatre has returned has been rather difficult!
Totally understandable! How do you think Little Women speaks to readers and audiences today?
Little Women is about a family who face joys, challenges and loss together. It’s a story of strong women finding their way in the world and the obstacles they face. It’s rather striking that many of those challenges still exist for women today, 150 years later.
Who is your favourite character and why?
Well it has to be Jo! She’s vivacious, flawed and ambitious. Lydia White plays her in our show, and she’s beautifully captured the fire Jo has in order to break free of society’s constraints.
What first inspired you to pursue acting as a profession?
I was part of the National Youth Music Theatre as a teenager and it just gave me “the bug”. That and the encouragement and skill of several wonderful teachers who inspired me to go for it.
Do you have any new roles or auditions lined up, and can you tell us a little about those?
I was supposed to be going into rehearsals for a show in December, which has sadly been postponed, so instead I get to enjoy Christmas with my family – which is no hardship at all. I have an almost two-year-old, and I’m always glad to have extra time with him between jobs.
Thank you for your time!
Little Women is at Park Theatre from 11th November until 19th December 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.