ON STAGE: Director and lead actress, Naima Furness, third from right rehearses for Little Women.
ON STAGE: Director and lead actress, Naima Furness, third from right rehearses for Little Women. DEIRDRE SMITH

Our Little Women are ready to take to stage

THEATRE people tend to be multitalented so it's no surprise that the director of the play 'Little Women' opening at the Little Theatre this weekend is also the lead actress, taking the part of Jo March. What is surprising is that Naima Furness is just 13 years old.

Even so, she has a few years of experience under her belt. Also a member of the Ritz Performing Arts Centre, Naima has been singing, dancing and treading the boards at the Little Theatre since she was nine. She has also had parts in two Shakespearean plays, Macbeth and Midsummer Night's Dream in the past two years. The much-loved story of Little Women, four American girls growing up with their mother while their father serving as a pastor in the Civil War has been described as a story about "domesticity, work, and true love, all of them interdependent and each necessary to the achievement of its heroine's individual identity”.

Written by Louisa May Alcott and published in 1868, the story has been an enduring classic. The story was first mounted as a stage production in 1912 and notable movies were made of the story, including one in 1994 directed by Australian, Gillian Armstrong. A new version staring Meryl Streep will be released at the end of 2019.

The four March girls have greatly different personalities, the eldest Meg is conventional and inclined toward domesticity while the main character, the second daughter, Jo, is a firebrand who show a lust for independence and learning regarded as unsuitable for a young lady of the era. The third daughter, Beth is shy while the baby, Amy revels in being doted on by those around her.

After years of involvement in the Little Theatre, Naima said she had been thinking about 'doing something for a while' and at a planning meeting last year, when she said that Little Women was a favourite of hers, the director of children's theatre, Annie Mitchell suggested she mount her own production.

After auditions, a cast of 11 young actors aged between 11 to 16 was selected with several Little Theatre stalwarts taking the adult roles.

Naima said, although older people tended to be more involved in theatre in Stanthorpe, this production of Little Women was a great way for young adults or younger children to get in and have a go.

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