Little Women. It’s a story that’s been admired since its publication in 1868. And now, this timeless classic is now making its way onto the stage of McInnis Auditorium.
But what goes into the making of a musical, especially when it’s based on a beloved tale of sisterhood, love, and family that’s been passed down for generations? Morgan Leavy, who plays the role of Jo March, was able to talk about her experiences auditioning and rehearsing for the production.
Little Women isn’t the first production that Leavy has been a part of. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Leavy has been in every mainstage production at her former school, Hesston College, for the two years she was there, as well as playing roles in Eastern’s productions of Peter and the Starcatcher, The Three Sisters, and Into the Woods. Despite her previous experience with theater, the audition process for Little Women was different than the other auditions she’s participated in. “We had a pre-audition before [winter] break because we have a newer department head. She didn’t have a show chosen for the spring, so we had the pre-audition to figure out the show,” Leavy said.
The actual audition consisted of singing 16 to 32 bars of music from a song of the student’s choosing, as well as a cold reading from the script for several different characters so that the director, Professor Abdelmalek, could decide what characters you would play best. “I felt pretty confident going into this audition. Normally, I feel pretty nervous, but I feel like I’ve done this more and more times, and I felt more and more comfortable which is nice. The night that I had to audition, we didn’t have a pianist because he got stuck in major traffic, so I had to sing acapella, and that was the only thing that was a little bit nerve wracking because you don’t plan for that,” Leavy said. After the initial auditions, there were then two nights of callback auditions: one night for script readings and one night for musical auditions.
Once the cast list was made, rehearsals began, taking place most nights of the week, including six hour long rehearsals on Saturdays. As one of the four March sisters, Leavy’s character Jo is in almost every scene, meaning that she has to attend almost every rehearsal. “Every rehearsal is different. We split it up so each rehearsal kind of has its own goal. Sometimes we have choreography rehearsals, we have music rehearsals, and we have blocking rehearsals. That’s what it’s like for the first couple weeks,” Leavy said. With more practice comes more familiarity with the script, songs, and choreography, and soon, the rehearsals shift from split up rehearsals to walkthroughs of the plays, going through each act like it would be performed.
According to Leavy, the rehearsals are full of cast bonding and laughter, with students from previous shows returning as well as students who are brand new to acting with Eastern’s theater department. “We have a lot of jokesters in our midst, like Michael Cross, Bryan Eltman, and Jake Craig. They are always cracking jokes, and we’ve had a lot of fun with this script because there are lots of times for laughs,” Leavy said. Though the show has its jokes, it also brings up messages about the importance of women in society and the importance of family. “I really hope that the audience takes away this sense of empowerment and also a sense of loving and family,” Leavy said.
You can see the performance of Little Women on March 26th through March 28th, so be sure to support this hardworking cast and all of the effort they’ve put into making this show possible.