IU theater will present “Little Women: the Broadway Musical” 7:30 p.m. April 20-24. A recording of the production will be broadcasted virtually to people who reserve tickets. Tickets are free and can be reserved on the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance website.
The musical, based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, follows the March sisters as they grow from young girls to women, director Chika Ike said. The plot primarily focuses on Jo as she works to become a writer.
“It's about family and holding on to each other when things get tough,” Ike said. “And for me at least it’s about the conversation between where do you draw strength from and where can you go to truly find yourself.”
With a completely virtual musical, Ike said she had to reconfigure and reconstruct what this story was. She said with virtual productions, she has learned to lean into the medium and work with the fact the audience is watching on a screen.
Junior Caroline Santiago Turner plays Jo. She said most of the interactions between characters are going to be presented as a Facetime call. She also said dance numbers will take inspiration from the TikTok setup of setting a phone down and then performing a dance.
Rehearsals for “Little Women” began on Zoom in February. The cast and crew met Mondays through Fridays from 7-11 p.m., Ike said. After a few weeks of rehearsals, they moved to the recording platform Riverside FM to start recording the production.
Junior Jessie Bittner plays Marmie. Bittner said working with Riverside FM was a bit difficult at first. The cast had to attach webcams and look into them directly instead of looking at their scene partners on screen, she said.
Bittner said she and the cast were able to overcome this obstacle and adjust to a new way of performing.
“It’s like when you take away one or more of your senses, it kind of heightens your other senses,” Bittner said. “So when we took away that visual aspect of not being able to see your scene partners face, that means you really have to listen to how they're delivering the line in terms of inflection and that sort of thing.”
The cast recorded the music for “Little Women” in pseudo recording studios in the basement of the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center building, Bittner said. Sound Director Grace Leckey took four practice rooms and created small individual studios that were all connected to a larger talkback system, so the actors could record together safely and each have their own room, Bittner said.
Santiago Turner said while they were in separate rooms, they were connected to each other’s microphone feeds.
“That was actually crazy because it was the first time that we could all hear each other singing at the same time,” Santiago Turner said.
With professionally recorded music, Santiago Turner said the actors either lip sync or sing quietly when they are recording scenes for a song.
“Little Women” concluded recording all their scenes on Friday, Ike said They are now in the post production process as music is added, scenes are stitched together and edits like filters and color corrections are made, Ike said.
This is Ike’s first time being a sole director for a musical. She said it was great working with this cast and crew for this production.
“Along with the challenges it was a lot of fun,” Ike said. “The cast, they're lovely, they're funny, they're curious and that's all you can really ask for.”