Theatre 21’s “Little Women” cast connect on and off stage

The cast from Theathre 21’s fall play, “Little Women,” which opens on Oct. 25, talks about their relationships on and off stage.


Ashleigh Fox

Meg (senior Tessa Myers), Jo (sophomore Shannon Dodson), and Beth (senior Lydia Gardner) look over an invitation to a Christmas party, while Amy (sophomore Kayla Billiou) inquires about how they will get to the celebration. | Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES

Heather Leith and Nicole Foy

Meg (senior Tessa Myers), Jo (sophomore Shannon Dodson), and Beth (senior Lydia Gardner) look over an invitation to a Christmas party, while Amy (sophomore Kayla Billiou) inquires about how they will get to the celebration. | Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES

Theatre 21’s fall play “Little Women” is dependent on crisp, constant dialogue and believable family interactions, so the comfort and chemistry between the four main actresses is essential.

Director Forrest Robinson, an assistant professor of theatre, says that preparation for “Little Women” has had its share of difficulties, including working with only a month of rehearsal time and struggling to find props and costumes. But he felt that casting the four main characters was almost easy, as the girls not only seemed to fit the personalities of their respective characters, but meshed perfectly as a group.

Actresses fit the part

Lydia Gardner, a senior communications major with an emphasis in speech and drama, plays Beth March and found that the offstage relationships of the four main actress mirrored those of the characters.

“Every sister is so unique and each one cherishes something different about the other, but they all bond together at the same time. In real life, we are all friends but bond together in different ways,” Gardner said.

Senior communications major with an emphasis in speech and drama Tessa Myers, who plays older sister Meg March, credits the casting choices of Robinson as the source of the dynamic group energy the four leads bring to the stage.

“We all just seem to fit our character really well, with Beth being very sweet, Amy being the baby of the family, Jo being more independent and Meg being motherly,” Myers said.

Sophomore theatre and kinesiology major Kayla Billiou, who plays Amy March, agrees that the genuine friendships that formed between the girls outside of the theater was the only way they were able to accurately play sisters.

“We have been together so much that we are friends now,” Billiou said. “Having a real relationship offstage helps the chemistry onstage.”

Although she has been acting since she was six, “Little Women” is Billiou’s first production at Biola. She says that she initially connected with her character because they share similar personalities.

“She goes through every emotion,” Billiou said. “It’s like playing several different characters. I’m really thankful I got this role because it forced me to grow and expand my horizons.”

Robinson said that Shannon Dodson, the sophomore theatre major who plays Jo March, also fits well with her character. Dodson was a complete surprise to him, as he had never worked with her before.

“She had those qualities of Jo, a strength that she had,” Robinson said. “She beat all the others hands down.”

Dodson’s command of the stage, constant movement, facial expressions and nervous energy perfectly embody the tomboyish Jo, according to Robinson.

Upcoming show is relatable, has depth

The audience can expect to laugh while simultaneously enjoying a good plot.

“It’s a comedy,” Billiou said, “but there is so much more than us getting up there and saying funny things; there is a an actual story.”

Myers expects that it will be easy for the audience to believe they are actually watching a real family with relatable problems interact.

“In every show you get really close to the cast and they become like family,” Myers said. “Inside the show and outside the show, its very much a real family dynamic.”

The play is based off of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott. It is a story of four girls and how they relate to their family and friends as they grow up, according to Dodson. The four women look forward to sharing their hard work with an audience.

“It would be a really good experience for anyone to come see us and have a good time with us,” Billiou said.

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