|The Concord Journal|
"Jo": Dyer and Parks, you done her wrong
Instantaneously, I admit that I’m a parent of one performer and a friend of a few other people involved in the current Concord Players’ production of "Jo", which you can (and probably should) catch any August Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening at 51 Walden St.. in Concord.
So an unbiased critic I ain’t.
On the other hand, I’ve never heard of Don Parks and William Dyer, who wrote (or perpetrated) the show, which is based on
Louisa May Alcott’s literary soap opera, Little Women. I’ve never read the book, either, which accounts for some, but not all, of my befuddlement plot-wise.
Sue Rarus, a senior at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High and a resident of Sudbury, is an absolute joy as Jo. She can sing, she can act, she’s pretty, which is three out of three in my book. As a matter of fact, she’s one good reason for hiking over to Concord--make it at eight o’clock, by the way--all by herself. Some day, you can tell everybody you saw her when.
Peter Hutchinson, who used to spend 98 percent of his time at Lincoln-Sudbury on stage, is another reason for going. He’s got a great voice, and the only decent ballad in the show to use it on. Hutchinson’s a fine actor, too. I know, because I’ve seen him in shows that gave him a chance.
Nancy J. Halpin is Meg, and it’s too bad she doesn’t live in Sudbury, because the air around here would be nicer with her singing in it. And Ellen Marder, as Aunt March, gets to do a little emoting as a crotchety old maid. I think she’s the only March I’d really like, if I ever met the gang.
The rest of the cast--Julia Rempelakis as Amy; Jane Carleton as Beth; Jane Perkins as Marmee; Bob Bridges as Professor Bhaer--is first-rate. Don’t blame them, for Heaven’s sake. Especially Bridges, who has to sing the Worst Song Ever Written not once, not twice, but three times.
The choreography is, uh, energetic. One moment--a posture depicting people listening for the birds of spring—seemed to come straight out of the Grecian urns in "Music Man", but mostly it was pleasant.
And the sets are peachy: simple and evocative and unobtrusive. Sudburyite (Sudburian?) Mike McGovern’s stage crew gets them up quickly, invisibly and mostly quietly.
Another Sudbury resident, Virginia Kirshner, Managed the Business just fine, apparently: nothing’s conspicuously missing from anywhere.
Finally, I’d give the music a six on the scale often: eight for the musicians, four for Dyer’s music.
In fact, about the only thing wrong with "Jo" that can’t be pinned on Dyer and Parks is the program’s "in-order-of-appearance" cast list, which isn’t anywhere near accurate.
Oh, yes. As a spa maid, Kerrin Clark needs a bib. I speak as a father, for the only time in the review.
Go see "Jo". The Concord Players rise above their material.
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