Jaren Wilkey, BYU
Rachael Debenham, left, as Beth and Anya Sulimoni Young as Jo in the production "Little Women" at BYU.
LITTLE WOMEN, THE BROADWAY MUSICAL; Pardoe Theatre, Harris Fine Arts Center, BYU campus; through Dec. 8; (422-4322); running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (one 15-minute intermission).

PROVO — Brigham Young University's production of "Little Women, The Broadway Musical" is a big deal. From the moment the large sepia-tone murals lift to the rafters you know you're in for something special.

The musical, written by Allan Knee with music by Jason Howland and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, is based on the beloved classic written by Louisa May Alcott.

It's the story of the March sisters with their dynamic and over-the-top sister Jo taking center stage and supplying the narrative.

The company has been selected well for this production. Certainly the standout on opening night was Mimi Knell as Jo March, the incorrigible sister whose imagination oft times gets the best of her. Knell is so believable she sucks you in, and you become one of the company.

All of the cast has wonderful voices, great character interpretation and they make one feel transported back to the 1860s. Standout musical numbers include: "Delighted," "Off to Massachusetts," "Five Forever," "Astonishing," "Some Things Are Meant to be," "Small Umbrella in the Rain" and "The Weekly Volcano Press."

Perhaps the only thing to outshine the leads was the set. It is a magnificent two stories of pure artistic genius. It features everything from a live action tableau, to the March family attic, to the upper levels of at least two other mansions.

Pay attention to the clever scene changes and prop placements. Even the stage crew are all dressed up and dance their way through the furniture moving.

This show is nonstop entertainment.

Costuming is another plus for this period piece. The costumes not only set the style of the show but were perfectly fit to the personalities of each character. The only drawback were the wigs.

This is a must-see for anyone who loves fine Broadway entertainment or the endearing "Little Women" story.

Sensitivity rating: This production is too long for young children, but can be thoroughly enjoyed by those 8 years and older.

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