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The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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‘Little Women: The Broadway Musical’: A compelling story of family and resilience

Palo Alto High School students rehearse for Paly Theatre’s newest act, “Little Women: The Broadway Musical”. According to senior Eloise Dumas, the assistant director of the musical, despite the short rehearsal time of only four weeks, the cast and crew are feeling confident and ready to finish out their last two shows. “Since the rehearsal process was so short, we didn’t have a ton of time to run things multiple times, but now that it’s the last two shows,” Dumas said. “I think everyone’s feeling the most confident they’ve been throughout the entire process. I think everyone’s really going to give their all for closing weekend. Last weekend’s shows were super well received, so I think the cast and crew have been picking up on that energy and creating stronger shows each day.” (Photo: Kristine Lin)

Broadway enthusiasts do not want to miss Palo Alto High School’s latest play, “Little Women: The Broadway Musical,” a musical based on the book “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, which vividly brings to life the March sisters’ journey through love, ambition, and societal challenges during the Civil War era.

Opening last weekend at the Performing Arts Center, “Little Women: The Broadway musical,” directed by theater and voice teacher Sarah Thermond as well as assistant director and senior Eloise Dumas, sold out on both the opening night and following evening. The musical, which details the story of the four March sisters—Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy, conveys the challenges of womanhood and the pursuit of individual identity. 

The musical starts with Jo, played by Annalise Klenow, an ambitious and curious person who enjoys writing stories and aspires to be an author, trying to sell her stories in New York.

Then, the scene quickly flashes back to the past in Concord, Massachusetts, where the opening song, “An Operatic Tragedy,” highlights Jo’s storytelling passion. The song sets the tone for the entire play and emphasizes her drive and ambition.

Beth — played by senior Zoe Hayward — is one of the two middle children and a kind girl who deeply appreciates her family. Everyone adores her and unites around her to take care of her when times are rough.

Amy — portrayed by sophomore Aashi Agarwal — is the youngest in the family and cares about appearances, social status and material goods. She hopes to become a famous artist but is occasionally short-tempered.

Meg — depicted by senior Sierra Rock — is the eldest of the March sisters and often acts as a motherly figure to her younger siblings. While she dreams of luxury and higher social standing, her true desire lies in leading a simple domestic life.  This story revolving around the four girls effectively conveys the essence of family dynamics, demonstrating the trials and tribulations of growing up during challenging times and the balance between personal ambition and family loyalty.

According to Dumas, directing the musical with Thermond was a collaborative experience.

“I’ve directed one act before, but never a mainstage, so this was my first time working with Ms. Thermond,” Dumas said. “What I really like about Ms. Thermond’s directing style is that she allows space for goofiness and jokes, but never allows for rehearsal to get so off track that it wastes people’s time. That really allows for maximum efficiency, but also a great vibe among everyone involved in the show, which I think is super important.”

Unlike previous musicals at Paly such as ‘Mamma Mia!’, “Little Women: The Broadway Musical” has a small cast of 12. According to senior Annalise Klenow, working with a small cast, made up mostly of people she knew, was rewarding. 

“It [working with a small cast] was definitely more personal,” Klenow said. “I really enjoyed the small cast size because I felt like then we could all bond very quickly.”

Sophomore Brendan Giang said the smaller cast and crew meant that each person needed to step up at rehearsals and put in their all.

“Everyone in this show plays an important role,” Giang said. “We couldn’t do the show missing someone. We got to know each other a lot more because the whole group was there each time. There’s more to learn when there’s less people, but that’s always fun because you get to do more things.”

A small cast also meant that the auditions were a lot more selective, which senior Matthew Arradaza said was more stressful due to the low number of cast spots. 

“The audition was very similar to other musicals,” Arradaza said. “We already knew we had the songs that we had to prepare, but we also knew that there would be cuts and there were only a limited number of spots. So we were a little bit more tense going into it.”

With only four weeks of rehearsal for the musical, according to Klenow, she and her peers persevered through the pressure and were able to pull together and perform the play.

“After four weeks, in ‘Mamma Mia,’ we were still learning choreography,” Klenow said. “So, it took a lot of dedication and I’m very impressed by my peers. It was very difficult with the time constraint, but I feel like we were all pretty determined because we knew that this was going to be something special.”

According to Dumas, the outcome of the play speaks for the hard work that was put in.

“I’m just super proud of how much energy everyone put into the show,” Dumas said. “Initially, we weren’t sure if the timeline was feasible or if the show would end up having to be more like a staged reading, but everyone showed up to rehearsal every day ready to work, and it shows.”

Despite hours of practice, performance does not come without stage fright. Klenow said she still gets nervous, although some of her nerves have calmed after the first performance.

“I feel a little bit better [after my first performance] but every night I get nervous no matter what,” Klenow said. “But it’s definitely different with an audience than just doing it at the dress rehearsal.”

Since Paly theater productions usually take place in the Performing Arts Center, Giang said one of his personal challenges was performing in a space in which he is unfamiliar with.

“I’ve never performed in this space [the Haymarket] and so getting acclimated to the area and how it works was a challenge because there are no microphones for this show,” Giang said. “We really had to project and articulate and listen to the backing tracks while trying to follow along.”

The Paly Theatre will present one more performance of “Little Women: The Broadway Musical” 7 p.m. Saturday in the Haymarket Theater. 

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About the Contributors
Ketan Altekar-Okazaki
Ketan Altekar-Okazaki, Senior Staff Writer
Ketan Altekar-Okazaki (Class of 2024) joined The Voice his junior year and enjoys volunteering in his free time.
Maxwell Zhang
Maxwell Zhang, Senior Staff Writer
Maxwell Zhang (Class of 2024) joined The Voice his sophomore year and wishes to pursue management and STEM in college.

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