The Edison Arts Society commenced Women’s History Month with a dramatic reading of an American classic. The organization collaborated with the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center to present Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women as a radio show. The event occurred via Zoom on Tuesday, March 2nd.
The ensemble from the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center last performed Alcott’s story on February 3rd. While an outstanding program, the company presented a more polished rendition of the show for this event.
Little Women invited the audience into the home of the March family. With father gone fighting the Civil War, Marmee (played by Monic Shah) and her daughters Jo (Shauni Ramai), Meg (Anna Paone), Amy (Laura Paone) and Beth (Justine D’Souza) prepared to spend the Christmas Season without him. The play followed the four sisters’ journeys from adolescence into little women. The enchanting characters and wonderful interpretations the actors gave them made for an entertaining evening of theatre.
Shauni Ramai portrayed the headstrong Jo. Ms. Ramai captured the character’s contradictions. Ostensibly, a writer with an “independent spirit,” Jo longed to keep her family together in the wake of their father’s absence. Ms. Ramai best illustrated this during the scene where Mr. Brooke (Thom Boyer) expressed his affections for her sister Meg. With charm, Ms. Ramai exclaimed that “Mr. Brooke is being disagreeable towards Meg. And Meg’s liking it!”
Although the Dragonfly team presented the radio show version of Little Women, they allowed the Zoom audience to see the actors. Shauni Ramai again took advantage of this opportunity to showcase her unparalleled proficiency for non-verbal communication. Ms. Ramai expressed Jo’s thoughts and feelings through her gestures, expressions and eye movements. She accentuated many of them with her “Christopher Columbus” exclamations.
Anna Paone portrayed Meg; the character who doubled as the show’s narrator. Also skilled in the art of non-verbal communication, Anna showed Meg’s coyness towards Mr. Brooke. Her laconic answers to Jo’s inquiries regarding her feelings expressed her interest with the same skill. Anna demonstrated her character’s love for her ailing sister, Beth. Anna struggled to express the words as she became lachrymose while recounting her sister’s illness.
The show’s other actors displayed their histrionic skills to perfection. Laura Paone delivered Amy’s malapropisms with aplomb. Her insistence on using good “vocibulary” and being “perfectionary” added humor the show. Justine D’Souza displayed poignancy through her enactment of Beth’s health struggles. Catherine LaMoreaux allowed Aunt March’s toughness to come through in the way she thundered her dialog. Monica Shah contrasted her by speaking Marmie’s lines in a soothing tone. Thom Boyer added his inimitable vocal style to the roles of Announcer and Mr. Brooke. Craig Mayer showed the kindness in Beth’s musical benefactor Mr. Lawrence. Susan Roberts gave the different servants she portrayed their own unique personalities.
Dragonfly made two casting changes from their February 3rd production. In that show, Nathaniel Tomb played Laurie and Nick Endo portrayed Professor Bayer. For the Edison Arts Society performance, the two actors switched roles. Mr. Tomb showed both Laurie’s love for and heartbreak over Jo. Mr. Endo adopted a well-crafted German accent with which to woo Jo as the German pedagogue.
Gloria Dittman, the president of the Edison Arts Society, complimented the “exciting” coalition between the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center and her organization. Those interested in learning more about the group can visit their website at Edison Arts Society. They are currently hosting an art exhibit at the Edison Town Hall.
The Dragonfly Multicultural Art Center returns to Zoom and Facebook on Wednesday, March 10th. Continuing their recognition of Women’s History Month, they will perform a reading of Tennessee Women, a show that explores the history of the women’s suffrage movement. More information about the group is available on their website: Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center (dragonflyartsnj.com).