LOUISA MAY ALCOTT'S 1869 novel Little Women is a staple in American literature - a piece of work that has been retold numerous times in numerous different formats.
Movies, TV, plays, musicals - the story has continued a prosperous life years and years since its publication.
This time, Savannah Repertory Theatre is doing its part to help carry on the legacy of Alcott’s celebrated work with their version of Little Women: The Musical.
The story’s iconic character, Jo March, will be portrayed by actress Kimberly Camacho.
Both Camacho and co-star Sam Beasley, who plays Laurie Laurence, say they’re looking forward to being part of the portrayal of such an important piece of American culture. The show opens on Dec. 13.
“The show really follows this family, the Marches, and specifically the four sisters. You deal with the mom, who’s husband is at war. You get to see how they’re living in this situation. It follows their journey and friendships and romances. Jo wants to be a writer, and wants to choose a more independent life.,” Camacho explains.
“You see these journeys that they all go on and how they all learn these very different lessons, and yet in the end it’s this really close knit family. Though tragedy hits, and all these things feel like they’re tearing them apart, it really brings them together.”
Beasley says that Little Women is an important show because it “emcompasses the many facets of being a woman, especially during the Civil War era.”
“It wasn’t common to be independent and self-sufficient,” he says.
“The complexities of wanting to raise a family and wanting to fall in love but find your own path was very new for the time period.”
The themes addressed in Little Women are both timely and timeless - something Camacho says is particularly important to her.
“One of my favorite things about the show is that it’s timeless,” she says.
“There’s so many things that we can still relate to about it. I love that it shows strength in so many different ways. It shows - specifically for women - strength in marriage, strength in love, strength in family, and strength in independence. It really represents every woman, in that time period but also today.”
Those themes addressed in the play can be almost eerily applied to the climate today in regard to gender equality, which Beasley says he was stunned by when researching his role.
“When I was doing my homework for this production, I was surprised at how many quotes could be directly lifted from text written so long ago - I’ve heard the same arguments in phrases said today,” he says.
“[Alcott] has this really great passage about how the phrase ‘boys will be boys’ should never be used, and never be used as an excuse. It’s really powerful that what she says is still said today,” he says.
“There’s also so much sensitivity to words that are seen as polarizing, like the word ‘feminist.’ She does a really great job of making it not about gender, but just about humanity.”
Though some of what’s addressed in the show are things that are still a problem in modern society, Camacho stresses that there are also a lot of positive, beautiful themes in Alcott’s work that are still powerful today - things like “passion, bravery, and boldness.”
“I find specifically in my character of Jo that she wants to do these great things. She goes on this journey to realize that you can find extraordinary things in the ordinary,” she says.
“She’s kind of everything I wish I was.”
For both Camacho and Beasley, theater has always been an important part of their lives, and their participation in Little Women is an extension of that fact.
“I was not a very social child. I had a lot of social anxiety and I was bullied,” Beasley says.
“It took getting into theater to find my voice and find friendship. So in a lot of ways, theater taught me to love myself - which is a very bold statement. But it really did. It also taught me how to be an artist, how to have a voice, how to collaborate. You learn all these tools inherently through the process of theater.”
“On a personal level, theater has always been the way that I get to physically connect with my imagination,” Camacho adds.
“When I was a child, I liked to be alone in my own impressionary world. When I was a child it was encouraged, but as I got older - you don’t do that,” she says.
“When I did my first play, I got to be as big and passionate and expressive as I wanted to, and I realized how much I enjoyed storytelling. Theater was my way of getting to jump into the stories and into this world that I saw on the page.”