In Louisa May Alcott's book "Little Women," the March sisters take readers on a journey from childhood to maturity during the American Civil War. Even though it is 150 years later, JoDonn and Kirsten Chaney can relate to this timeless, classic story.
Similar to the March family, the couple also has five daughters — Susie, Rebekah, Rachel, Abigail and Anna — ranging in ages from 9-19 years old and faced their own good times and bad, seen and shared the joys and pains of growing up, and showed warmth, family loyalty and traditional values as their daughters navigate through important events in their lives.
Paired with their experience on and off stage at Stained Glass Theatre, JoDonn and Kirsten were delighted to direct the community theatre's July 19-Aug. 4 production of "Little Women."
The popularity of "Little Women" has resulted in a couple of motion pictures, including a modern retelling starring Lea Thompson, Melanie Stone and Sarah Davenport set to release this year on the 150th anniversary of the novel. JoDonn and Kirsten also saw how the playwright through Pioneer Drama Services did "a fantastic job" of the journey of childhood to adulthood in a five-year span that begins at Christmas in 1863 through the winter of 1868.
"Our goal as directors is to show these girls maturing during this time, facing the time of Civil War and struggles a family goes through," Kirsten said. "It is a wonderful storyline."
"This play version focuses in heavily on the financial constraints from being stable to decisions we have all made, and they are now in financial straits with little money," JoDonn said about the March family. "Even in their woes, they are very generous, very giving, and try to help and include others."
That story of forgiveness, love and compassion nicely fits the Stained Glass Theatre's 2018 "Season of Forgiveness," and the community responded to the upcoming production with open arms and lots of individuals wanting to audition. Kirsten said they had so many talented actors that came out, but they narrowed down the smaller cast to ones that could properly show that maturity gained in a five-year span.
"We have several veterans and familiar faces, with some newcomers to the stage as well," Kirsten said. "We have a very talented cast, with a lot of experience and a lot of years in the theater."
Those careful choices include Michaela Kirk, much like the free-spirited March sister Josephine "Jo" March she plays in "Little Women." Haedyn Herren, a Tennessee native and college student in Columbia, is excited to play sister Meg March, with Olivia Hyman as Beth, and Rachel Chaney as Amy to round out the March sisters.
"It is nice to see how the theater is able to include a variety of different people. The story has meant a lot not only to the community but the cast itself," Kirsten said. "We have definitely become a family. The cast members have lost loved ones or others who have gotten seriously sick. We have become a family, there to support each other."
JoDonn enjoys how the play follows closely to the book, with familiarity for those who have read it but an enjoyable experience for those who are unfamiliar. Humor, tears and happiness are emotions the directors feel the audience will experience in "Little Women."
"Little Women" will take the stage July 19-Aug. 4, with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $9 for all shows except opening night, which is $7.
For more information, call 573-634-5313 or visit www.sgtmidmo.org.