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Why Little Women? Part 2

The Making of Little Women

Choosing a musical, is one of the most difficult parts of producing one. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I obsess over watching musicals in search of the perfect one. My goal is to find a musical which provides students with the greatest opportunity for growth. Sure, I want to see them create an amazing production that knocks the socks off of their parents and all of Sandpoint. It can sound like hyperbole, but, in the end, it really is about the process. The best shows reflect back to us a full range of human experience and emotion; tears and joy spontaneously well up from the depths of our being. A show of this nature allows the students to project their struggles outside of themselves and onto the story, giving them the opportunity to process their own inner experiences and objectively work through challenging emotions. A complete show will also reflect back the joy to be found in life, gratitude for who we are and what life bring us. Finding such a show that also has the right number of roles and is at an adolescent level is not an easy task.

Finding Little Women was a surprise. I discovered why this story has had its staying power. For over 150 years it has spoken, and still speaks to the hopes and aspirations of adolescents – our adolescents. It also has a good dose of humor and fun, necessary ingredients in the life of a teenager.

For high-schoolers, the “real world” is not far off – and it can be daunting. School work can be difficult, social situations are awkward, internal emotions are powerful and difficult to work through. Little Women gives them a chance to explore approaching adulthood, and it gives their parents and teachers a chance to empathize with them and reflect on their own lives.

In the character of Jo, we see our own aspirations to be recognized for who we are, the desire to achieve success against all odds and be “astonishing.” The students are already astonishing themselves and each other as they reveal parts of themselves that they never knew existed. Through the March sisters and their suitors, we relive the universal quest for love. As you can imagine, this is a tender subject for adolescents. We get to feel outrage when Laurie’s love is spurned as well as hope and tenderness in Meg’s marriage. The jury is still out on Amy’s marriage and Jo’s engagement. Meg’s twins and the soon-to-arrive third child announce possibilities that give everyone pause. It is difficult to come to terms with the impermanence of life, and all of us are moved to tears through the loss of Beth. We are challenged to overcome our sadness and find gratitude for the blessings of life and the precious time we do have with each other.

All through the story, the accompanying music enchants and delights. The lyrics are powerful and the story is told through them. We celebrate as each student rises to their potential and their spirits soar. I will leave you with the final words from the song, “Astonishing,” which captures the essence of this triumph.

Here I go and there's no turning back.

My great adventure has begun.

I may be small but I've got giant plans

To shine as brightly as the sun.

I will blaze until I find my time and place,

I will be fearless, surrendering modesty and grace.

I will not disappear without a trace.

I'll shout and start a riot,

Be anything but quiet.

Christopher Columbus,

I'll be astonishing,



At last.

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