"Little Women" Cast Members

I was able to sit in on a tech rehearsal of “Little Women” earlier this week at Jamestown Community Theatre. While the actors worked hard on stage, sound and light technicians were busy adjusting their respective bits of technology. Keri Boisclair, the show’s director, divided her time between the actors and the technicians.

“I chose ‘Little Women’ to direct,” said Boisclair. “I absolutely love the story by Louisa May Alcott. The musical is incredible, and it seemed to be a good fit for this time and this group.”

Alcott’s book, a semi-autographical novel written in 1869, was turned into a musical in 2000, and debuted in 2005. The story focuses on the March girls – Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy – and their lives in Concord, Massachusetts around the time of the Civil War. Jo is the main character, and as a potential author, she is frustrated by her constant rejections by publishers. The story skips around and is interspersed with presentations of Jo’s written work.

“It’s a story of hope. It’s a story of how family takes care of family. It’s a story of how persistence, art, drive, and passion can carry us through, even at the darkest times. My artistic vision would be to stay true to the intent of Alcott’s story, while also encouraging our audience to choose hope and love over sadness and despair. I want to lead them through a journey of ups and downs but leave them at the end with some hope and optimism for how we can get through everything together.

Auditions happened early in September. “The show was incredibly difficult to cast,” said Boisclair. “We had so many incredibly talented people come out for it.”

Jordan Rossi was cast as Jo. “I went into the audition saying I would take any of the March sisters,” she said. “I think I probably would have taken anything I was offered because I was excited to be performing again.” In the back of her mind, Rossi says she knew “that Jo was always on my list of dream roles, but it just seemed unrealistic of that when it has been so many years since I have been on stage.”

Now 30 years old and living in Narragansett, “Little Women” is the first show Rossi has done since graduating from Prout High School 12 years ago. “I didn’t do anything at URI and looking back, I’m not really sure why.” Her friend Cassondra Richards – who’s playing Amy in “Little Women” – had appeared in JCT’s spring production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” and had “nothing but wonderful things to say about the experience.”

Based on that, Rossi decided to audition. “I was very nervous and really had no idea what to expect. I just knew that I really missed theater and singing and wanted to have that creative outlet back in my life.”

During the day, Rossi works as an audit manager at a public accounting firm in Providence. She’s loving her nighttime experience. “It’s been so fun. I feel so lucky to have found this incredibly supportive and talented group of people.”

According to Boisclair, about half the cast is from Jamestown. The rest come from other parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. “This cast and crew have been one of the loveliest groups I have ever worked with,” said Boisclair. “Everyone should come and see them this weekend. They deserve all the love that audiences can give them.”

Jamestown Community Theatre, inside the Jamestown Rec Center on Conanicus Avenue, presents “Little Women” November 18-20 – Friday and Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon. Tickets can be purchased online at www.jamestowncommunitytheatre.com, or at the door.

Frank O'Donnell

Frank O’Donnell has worn many different hats. As an actor, he’s performed in three professional theatrical productions and countless community theater productions. He’s written, produced and directed four holiday-themed shows and once helmed the Notfanuttin’ Players, specializing in audience-participation dinner shows. He’s been performing as a stand-up comedian since 1982 and has been inducted into the RI Comedy Hall of Fame. He’s written comedy for other performers, like Bob Hope, Jay Leno and Joe Piscopo. He’s opened for performers as diverse as the Judds, Michael Bolton, Chicago, David Brenner, Gilbert Gottfried and more. He’s been writing reviews and features about theater in Rhode Island for better than two decades. His work to help save the monarch butterfly has been chronicled on NBC Nightly News and he is president of the Keri Anne O’Donnell Memorial Fund. A native of Providence and long-time resident of North Providence, Frank now calls Jamestown home. He and his wife Karen – who he met when both were students at Classical High School – have four children, and recently became grandparents.