Journey Theater Group starts March with story of the March sisters

Production of ‘Little Women’ runs March 2-11 at the Washburn Performing Arts Center at Washougal High School

Brooke Strickland
For ClarkCountyToday.com

VANCOUVER — Students are in full character this week, rehearsing the musical that reflects the timeless story of the March sisters in Journey Theater’s production of Little Women.

The show, based off the book written by Louisa May Alcott, runs a little over two hours and follows the adventures of four sisters and their best friend Laurie during the Civil War era. It’s a classic story of love, loss, family, and friendship. While this musical is very similar to the movies as well as the book, it gives the audience the opportunity to see a deeper side of each of the characters that are not portrayed in the other mediums.

Journey Theater Group will present a production of Little Women March 2-11 at the Washburn Performing Arts Center at Washougal High School. Photo courtesy of Brooke Strickland
Journey Theater Group will present a production of Little Women March 2-11 at the Washburn Performing Arts Center at Washougal High School. Photo courtesy of Brooke Strickland

Annalise Southwood, director of the show, shares that the music adds a special dynamic to the story.

“Music adds such an emotional element, so it really takes the audience to places that they haven’t really reached before. It’s empowering and touching,” said Southwood, who indicated the storyline is one that resonates with her deeply. “I am a writer and strongly identify with the character of Jo, both in my pursuits and personality. I also grew up with this story through the movies and book. I come from four sisters and several other things parallel my life and this story. That makes it both an exhilarating and daunting task to direct this show, because I know it so well. I want to bring all of this personal experience to it, while also allowing room for everyone collaborating on it.”

Southwood has been involved in Journey Theater for 12 years, where she joined as a student at age 15. As she got older, she decided to pursue her dreams in the artistic arena and has served on the artistic team for eight shows — three of them as an assistant director and five as the director.

The group of students that makes up this production of Little Women is on the smaller side, and consists of 13 crew and 32 cast members. Students in the Journey program come from all over Clark County and range in age from 8 to 18.

Among the 32 cast members of the Journey Theater Group’s production of ‘Little Women’ are Kenna Jenkins, Natalie Strickland and Maggie McBride (shown here). Photo courtesy of Brooke Strickland
Among the 32 cast members of the Journey Theater Group’s production of ‘Little Women’ are Kenna Jenkins, Natalie Strickland and Maggie McBride (shown here). Photo courtesy of Brooke Strickland

Southwood shares, “I love the process of working with these students. They are generous actors and supportive cast members when it comes to putting in the work and trying difficult things. Oftentimes in this show, they’re going to be in vulnerable and emotional places. It’s beautiful to see.”

Several of the children in this performance have never been involved in a theater production, so it gives them a chance to participate and hone their acting skills. Parent committees are heavily involved in helping run the show, and the show coordinator works directly with the students and the committees to help facilitate all the details.

The committees and show coordinator are attentive in pairing the new kids up with more veteran Journey Theater kids, to help show them the ropes and help them get settled in the various inner workings of placement, cues, and makeup techniques. If you ask any of these students about the preparation that goes into it, they’ll likely say that those details are part of what makes it fun.

Southwood, her artistic team, and the cast have been working since mid-January to memorize lines and choreograph the various scenes and songs. The goal is to create a realistic and captivating story that people of all ages can love and appreciate.

Southwood says, “I love that multiple generations can come see this show together and have this incredible experience of watching live theater and, hopefully, be tied closer together because of it. There’s something about this show that just makes you want to hug your loved ones.”

Performances begin on March 2 at Washburn Performing Arts Center at Washougal High School. There are six performances that run through March 11. For more information on the schedule or to purchase tickets, visit journeytheater.org.

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