Theater at Ferndale High School is looking a bit different this year. After spending some time missing the annual fall production and especially the talented kids they work with, directors Crissy Ford and Rachel Pringle decided to find a way to put on a production even with COVID constraints (including restricted group size and no live audience). When the small cast musical “Little Women” became available to be presented to the public via streaming, they found their show. They had no budget, so the students put on a virtual concert fundraiser to raise money for the licensing fees. The Ferndale Golden Eagles Booster Club also chipped in with financial support. Having preserved the magnificent house from last winter’s “My Fair Lady” for future use, they had a set. They borrowed some Civil War era costumes, held virtual auditions, and off they went with a plan to film the show in December. New Covid restrictions shut down indoor rehearsals in mid-November, but after a brief pause they were back at it. They rehearsed over Zoom and bundled up outside, trying not to lose momentum until they could return to the stage. Restrictions lifted in mid-January and the cast and crew have been hard at work preparing to film their show.
Based on Louisa May Alcott's life, Little Women follows the adventures of sisters Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy March. Jo is trying to sell her stories for publication, but the publishers are not interested – her friend, Professor Bhaer, tells her that she has to do better and write more from herself. Begrudgingly taking this advice, Jo weaves the story of herself and her sisters and their experience growing up in Civil War America. The story is a beloved one that has been made into many film and stage adaptations. This musical version premiered on Broadway in 2005 and brings the familiar, heartwarming story to life paired with wonderful music.
Director Crissy Ford had this to say: “I’m so proud of the way the students have persevered during this pandemic to make this beautiful production together. It’s been a pleasure for them to be creative while staying safely distanced. Special thanks to parent Andrew Schlichting for making this possible by filming and editing this production.”
The cast is led by FHS senior Sophia Bianco, who tackles the very challenging role of Jo with passion and depth. Senior Anna Jensen plays Marmee, the matriarch of the March family, with warmth and maturity. Senior Grace Richins plays oldest daughter Meg and delights with her sparkling soprano. Junior Jessica Van Beek breaks your heart as sweet Beth, and senior Nicole Dyches plays youngest daughter Amy’s range from selfish young girl to wiser, kinder young woman with grace. Senior Sophie Diedriger plays demanding Aunt March with flair. Senior Josiah Aho plays Jo’s friend (and future husband) Professor Bhaer and his rich baritone is a pleasure. Senior Carl Kennerley plays a buoyant Laurie, neighbor and friend to the March girls. Junior Bryant Larrabee plays John Brooke, Laurie’s tutor and Meg’s husband-to-be, and junior Jacob Peterson plays cantankerous Mr. Laurence, Laurie’s grandfather. The show is rounded out with a talented ensemble -- Coral Swinford, Katrina Trubnikov, Josiah Fox, Matthew Schlichting, Hope Albright, Addie Lupo, Ty Warner, Carson Roberts, and Paloma Joseday play characters in Jo’s stories and enhance other scenes with lovely visuals and even a no-contact waltz.
Rachel Pringle shared: “Figuring out how to produce this show safely has been a challenge to say the least, but completely worth it to see the kids’ joy at being together (albeit distanced and wearing masks) and back on stage. Special thanks to the Booster Club, FHS Athletic and Activities Director Eric Tripp, Katie Schonborn for vocal coaching, Karin Porret for sharing costumes, and our wonderful supportive parents.”
After editing, the show will be available to stream on ShowTix4U from February 26-28. Tickets can be purchased beginning February 1st and are $25 for a group/family ticket and $12 for a senior ticket, with the streaming and processing fees charged by the company included in that price. Streaming will be on-demand and the show can be watched multiple times over a 48-hour period after activating a streaming code. To purchase tickets: https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/45948 or go to www.showtix4u.com and search “Ferndale”.
Senior Actors: Josiah Aho, Anna Jensen, Grace Richins, Sophia Bianco, Nicole Dyches, Carl Kennerley, Coral Swinford
Senior Artist: Annika Brockett