Powder & Wig’s Little Women: The Broadway Musical

by Sarah Warner

Left to right: Brianna LaValle ’22, Piper Dunton ’22, Mairead Farrell ’21 and Bethany Vix ’19 perform Little Women.

This past Friday, Powder & Wig’s final show of the year, Little Women: The Broadway Musical, premiered.

Based off of the classic book by Louisa May Alcott, the story of the March sisters was brought to the Broadway stage by Allan Knee, Mindi Dickstein, and Jason Howland, who wrote the book, lyrics, and music, respectively. It was brought to Colby’s own Page Commons by the show’s director Andrea Swiderski ’20, a member of Powder & Wig and long-time fan of Little Women.

The plot of Little Women: The Broadway Musical follows the story of the four March sisters living in Massachusetts during the Civil War era. Jo March, the eldest of her sisters, is a determined and passionate writer, and much of the show’s storyline is grounded in her pursuit of writing and fiery personality. Swiderski said that Jo March’s determination not only led her to choose to direct Little Women for Powder & Wig this year but shaped her outlook on life.

“When I was in third grade, I read Little Women for the first time, and everyone told me I couldn’t read it because I was nine and it was 400 pages,” Swiderski said in an interview with the Echo. “So, really, I just took on Jo March’s personality and was like ‘no, you’re telling me I can’t do this, but I can.’ After reading that book, I kept doing that and kept trying to defy people telling me that I can’t do something, so Little Women has really been a big influence in my life. It seemed like the perfect choice.”

In Swiderski’s rendition of Little Women: The Broadway Musical, Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth March were played by Bethany Vix ’19, Sam Barry ’20, Brianna LaValle ’22 and Mairead Farrell ’21. Their mother, Marmee March, was played by Piper Dunton ’22. Working with these actors as well as the other talented student actors, musicians and crew who helped make the production a reality was what made doing the show worth it, according to Swiderski.

“They’re all such fantastic people. Most of them I knew beforehand, but there were quite a few new people who were freshmen or who had never done a show before and they were all incredible and very fun to work with,” she said.

Swiderski and the rest of the cast and crew rehearsed two or three hours per day for five or six days a week over the course of two months in order to prepare for their stage debut.

“Not everyone was called for every rehearsal, but as director I was always there and so were the stage managers. It took a lot. But by about a week before Tech Week, which is the week before the performance goes up, we had been able to do a full run of the show.”

The week leading up to the premiere of Little Women was particularly stressful for Swiderski. Powder & Wig, as a student-run club, owns very little of their own props, sets, and costumes. They borrow the majority from the Theatre & Dance department, meaning they can only do full dress rehearsals a week in advance. The Colby Liberal Arts Symposium (CLAS) was also happening in the week before the show premiered and Swiderski had to cancel a rehearsal because so much of the cast and crew was involved in Arts@CLAS. However, Swiderski claims she wasn’t nervous about their lack of practice.

Swiderski was right to be confident in her club, as it put on a great performance last week.