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LITTLE WOMEN - the MUSICAL Musical in 2 Acts based on the novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott Book by Allan Knee; Music by Jason Howland; Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein Opened Virginia Theatre, Broadway - 23 January, 2005. Closed 22nd May, 2005 (55 previews from 7 December, 2004; 137 perfs) SYNOPSIS Act One. The story opens in New York City, 1866. The Civil War is over. Jo March, an impassioned, ambitious girl of 19, has recently arrived from Concord. Mass. to work as a governess for Mrs. Kirk and, more importantly, to try to launch a career as a writer of blood-and-guts thrillers. To ease the blow of yet another rejection, she reads and re-enacts one of her stories to a boarder in the house, Professor Bhaer. Taken aback by the violence he hears. he tells her that she is unique and could do better. Furious at him. Jo responds and, in the process. her memory of the past comes alive. The scene segues back to Concord. three years earlier, a few days before Christmas. We are in Jo's favourite haunt, her attic, where she has just completed her Christmas melodrama, which she and her sisters - the oldest and romantic Meg, the youngest and determined Amy, and the angelic Beth - intend to perform for the entire town. During the song Jo extracts from her sisters a promise that the four of them will remain together forever. Marinee, the girls' mother and backbone of the family, returns home and after reading them a letter from their father. who is serving as an Army chaplain, she tries to write a letter of her own to her husband. Jo works for her Aunt March. an over-bearing matriarch, who promises to take Jo to Europe to further her much-needed education, but only if Jo can change her un-lady-like ways. Jo gets her first real opportunity to change when she and Meg are invited to Annie Moffat's St. Valentine's Day Ball, an event that Meg feels she is not up to until Marme, Jo and Beth reassure her. At the ball, Jo and Meg meet Laurie, the engaging boy-next-door, and his tutor. Mr. John Brooke. After Meg goes off dancing with Mr. Brooke, Laurie confesses his desire for a friendship with Jo. Laurie's gruff and irrascible grandfather, Mr. Laurence, is vehemently against any relationship between his grandson and the March family, but hearing Beth sing he is so touched by her and the memories the song evokes that he joins Beth in a duet. Upon his departure, Laurie races in carrying Amy, who had fallen through the ice in an ice-skating accident. Jo and Amy have not spoken to each other since Amy, in a fit of jealous pique, burned Jo's best story. Jo opens up her heart, forgives her, and together the four girls reaffirm, 'the March sisters forever!'. Inspired. Jo invites Laurie into the fold as the brother they never had. When Marmee is called to Washington to attend to her ailing husband, Jo's world begins to unravel. She sells her hair to help finance Marmee's trip and thereby loses her own trip to Europe when Aunt March is outraged by her behaviour. She loses Meg when her sister becomes engaged to the recently-enlisted John Brooke, and finally she loses Laurie when her confidante and best friend, seemingly out of nowhere, proposes marriage to her and she turns him down. Left alone she cries out for a different life. Act Two finds Jo in New York. Jo finally sells her first story: a rewritten version of 'An Operatic Tragedy' which she joyously re-enacts for Professor Bhaer and Mrs. Kirk. But when she receives news that her beloved Beth has contracted scarlet fever, she abruptly returns to Concord, leaving behind a bewildered Professor, who comes to see just how smitten with Jo he has become. Jo, desperate to heal her ailing sister, takes her to Cape Cod where Beth gently tries to convince her of the truth and let her know that the hardest part is leaving her. The family mourns the devastating loss of Beth, but when a grown-up Amy returns, one senses life does, and must, go on. Laurie, who had gone to Europe to get over Jo, returns with Amy, and the two confess to Jo that they have fallen in love and will be married in the spring. Unable to write, desperately missing Beth, regretting she had ever left Concord, Jo makes her way