Short, sweet, and sharp

. May 18, 2012.

Wild Swan Theater, Ann Arbor’s nationally recognized children’s theater troupe, now in its 31st season, will reprise their production of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women in December. Among WST’s core missions is to make their productions accessible to all. They incorporate American Sign Language interpreters in all their plays, and as Sandy Ryder, one of WST’s founders, says, “We don’t want anyone not to be able to see our shows, so we really try to keep our ticket prices affordable and offer special group rates and senior discounts.”

Ryder (who will play Aunt March), and Michelle Trame Lanzi (who will portray Marnie), talked with Current about Little Women.

Ryder: We read many scripts, but we didn’t think any of them did justice to Louisa May Alcott’s book. So Hilary (Hilary Cohen, along w/ Ryder, the co-founder of WST and the director of the current production) decided she was going to write the script. We were really careful — it had to be no longer than an hour — but also had to be true to Louisa May Alcott’s words and her whole message that it’s about who you are inside, and holding fast to yourself — believing in yourself. Hilary did this beautiful, beautiful script.

Trame Lanzi: Partly it’s beautiful because it’s using Louisa May Alcott’s words. A lot of the dialog is drawn right from the book. Hilary made nice transitional scenes, and figured out what was important and what could
be cut.

Ryder: In our story Beth recovers. We don’t go on to where she dies, which is actually the way Louisa May Alcott wrote it at first, too. She had a part one and a
part two

Trame Lanzi: There are very few shows that have so many wonderful parts for women. There are a lot of strong characters in this show, and I think girls, especially, can relate to it.

Ryder: I think it’s good for boys to see strong
girls.  (Laughter)

Trame Lanzi: We did a lot of research on Louisa May Alcott and her family. Louisa’s dad was such a forward thinker. The speech that Marnie gives to Meg and Jo, “I don’t want you to just go marry somebody. I want you to really pursue your dreams, that’s what makes me happy.” That is not something that you would normally have heard at that time, but Louisa grew up with that. And then she gave that message to everyone reading her book.
 

Ryder: What I loved about Marnie is she was really true to the kids. She didn’t try to make Jo into a girl. Jo was such a tomboy. She embraced that. With all of her kids she embraced who they were, and supported them.
Little Women runs from December 8-11 at Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building, Washtenaw Community College. Tickets are $15 adult, $10 children. For more info, www.wildswantheater.org.

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