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‘Little Women, the Musical’ coming to Center Theatre stage

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DOVER-FOXCROFT – Just in time for a holiday outing, the beloved Louisa May Alcott class, “Little Women” comes to the Center Theatre stage as a musical adaptation. Written 150 years ago, the tale of sisters Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March is generating extra buzz this year, both because of the anniversary and because the new movie of the same name debuts this month.

“And it mentions Christmas so there’s a connection there,” said Derrick Buschmann, theatrical director of the Slightly Off-Center Players production of “Little Women, the Musical” for Center Theatre. “It was just excellent timing!”

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LITTLE WOMEN SISTERS — The Slightly Off-Center Players bring their production of “Little Women, the Musical” to the Center Theatre stage this week, which follows the adventures of the March sisters: Amy (Susannah Huettner), Meg (Elisabeth Carlson), Jo (Mandy Ober) and Beth (Hannah Derespino).

Buschmann read the book long ago, but has avoided contact with that and with the movie – for now. “Otherwise I would be wanting to put that on the stage instead of what the cast and crew was giving me,” he said. “I strongly advised them to read it, but as the director, I wanted to see what they gave me and mold that into the best show that we could put on. That’s my favorite part of directing – seeing what they give me, and them coming up with ideas.”

The director, who was a film and theater major in college, said that he has been a theater person all of his life, beginning with performances in second grade, and carrying through school theater, community theater, college and a little bit of professional work both in the Midwest and on the east coast. He is now the theater and film instructor at Foxcroft Academy.

The cast is, “an excellent group of people,” Buschmann said, and includes veterans of other musicals and well as students, retirees, professionals and people doing it for the first time ever. There’s also a very wide age range, with the youngest actor being 10 years old. It’s a large cast, with 22 members.

“This is a mighty group of people that have come together from very different sections of the community,” said Buschmann. “They have all been putting in hours and days and weeks of hard work to bring the story to life. In the end, it’s all about telling the story, and I believe this cast is telling the story very well.”

Based on Alcott’s Civil War story of love and family, the musical stands up to the test of time.

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LITTLE WOMEN SINGING DUO — During a preview of “Little Women, the Musical” on Dec. 6, Jo March (Mandy Ober) cherishes time with her very ill sister Beth (Hannah Derespino).

“I feel quite happy to have been involved in the project, which is set in a time and place that I think will seem very familiar to people in this area, and it has themes that will resonate throughout the community,” Buschmann said.

The Center Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission to make the arts, education, and entertainment accessible to our rural community to engage and inspire. “Little Women, the Musical” opens at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13, with performances that weekend and the following weekend. For more dates, times and details, call Center Theatre at 207-564-8943, email info@centertheatre.org or visit centertheatre.org.

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