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East End Theater Review: North Fork Community Theatre's "Little Women - The Musical"

T.J. Clemente

Laurie and the four March sisters (From left: Jennifer Brounstein, Brianna Kinnier, Robert Fischetti, Skylar Wowak, Ellie Eichenlaub) (Photo: Elizabeth Wagner)

The premiere of the musical Little Women at the North Fork Community Theatre received a well-earned standing ovation. The show, based on a novel by Louisa May Alcott, with music by Jason Howard and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, is running until October 27. The audience was dazzled by a total cast effort directed and choreographed by Jessica Raven. Little Women is produced by Liz Liszanckie and musically directed by Karen Hochstedler, who also plays a wonderful piano.

Brianna Kinnier, as Jo March, provides an energy, a spark, a force of nature, that keeps this show marching, gathering more and more applause as the night moves on. Her singing, her acting, her dancing and her stage presence are alone worth the price of the ticket. Brianna Kinnier is Jo March and the audience loved it.

The beauty of this production is that every main character had a special intimate moment with the audience, due perhaps to playwright Allan Knee's writing and director Jessica Raven's vision and stage blocking.

Lauren Sisson, who plays Marnee March, sang with a voice that hit the sweetest high notes of the evening and received applause throughout.

Robert Fischetti, who plays Theodore Laurence III, gives a certain magnetic and dynamic performance that had the women sitting next to me talking about him with "oh my" after "oh my" thoughout all his scenes.

Ellie Eichenlaub, who plays Beth March, touches everyone's soul with both her acting and her singing. Jennifer Brounstein, who plays Meg March, provides a youthful flame that ignites her dynamite talents and Skylar Wowak is another crowd favorite as she plays Amy March. She has a special moment when she connects with the crowd in song.

I myself enjoyed the performance of Colin Palmer, who while portraying Professor "Fritz" Bhaer, sang in character with an accent and a voice that seemed to get stronger and more powerful as he sang. Very Broadway!

As for comedic acting, Marion Stark as Aunt March had the theatre chuckling with her well timed, well enunciated one-line zingers. Kudos to costume designer Deanna Andes for the period piece outfits Ms. Stark strutted about stage in.

Also providing comedy were the swordsmen scenes of Stuart Whalen, who although he also plays Mr. Laurence extremely well, steals moments in the show as the hero Rodrigo!

Showing acting prowess is Eric Momente whose sensitive approach of playing Mr. John Brooke has genuine stature on stage that was noted by the audience.

Susan Hedge plays Mrs. Kirk flawlessly and has a certain flare on stage.

The musicians hidden from the audience also play an important part of this show. A shout out to violinist Corrina Bollermann, Tesa Arnzen and Kristina Georges. Calaigh Hochstedler was superb on flute/alto flute. Cheers to Millie Feliciano on both clarinet and bass clarinet along with Olivia Mannino on trumpet and flugelhorn. Mathew Miller plays both the trombone and bass trombone. Of course, musical director and piano player Karen Hochstedler conducted them wonderfully.

It's always important to mention how the newly renovated North Fork Community Theatre is also a factor in any show performed there. The historic venue seems to create a cozy, warm, welcoming atmosphere that lends to the magic of live shows. The new lighting of the renovated North Fork Community Theatre was mastered for the performance by Sam Kerrigan, David Sheer, and Ren Kerrigan.

The crowd stood and cheered, the premiere of Little Women at the newly renovated North Fork Community Theatre was a total success.

I highly recommend this show for the whole family.

NFCT's Little Women the Musical will run through Sunday, October 27, with performances on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

A free pre-show reception, sponsored by The Village Cheese Shop, will be held in support of Community Action Southold Town on Thursday, October 17 at 7 p.m. Theater-goers are asked to bring nonperishable food, such as canned goods, rice, beans, peanut butter, cereal, and pasta, or personal care, baby and household items that will be distributed to those in need through Community Action Southold Town.

Little Women the Musical tickets are $25. Student rush admission is $20, if seats are available 10 minutes before curtain.

The North Fork Community Theatre is located at 12700 Sound Avenue in Mattituck. For more information, call 631-298-6328 or visit www.nfct.com.

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