BELFAST – The Belfast Maskers present the Midcoast premiere of “Little Women – the Broadway Musical,” adapted from Louisa May Alcott’s semi-autobiographical novel, starting July 22. Due to COVID-19 precautions, this is the first show scheduled inside the Basil Burwell Community Theater, 17 Court St., in 16 months, according to Maskers Artistic Director Meg Nickerson. The family-friendly production is sponsored by The First, Nickerson Professional Association and Aubuchon Hardware.

“Little Women” is the story of the four teen-aged March sisters living in genteel poverty in Massachusetts during the U.S. Civil War. The book has not been out of print since it was first published in 1868. It is a beloved classic for generations of girls who identify variously with traditional Meg, aspiring writer Jo, timid Beth or romantic Amy.

The musical was thoughtfully chosen by Stage Director Erik Perkins and Music Director Dominic Williams to take advantage of the “girl-power” strengths of the local talent pool and the unique character of the 100-seat theater itself.  “Little Women – the Broadway Musical,” with book by Allan Knee, music by Jason Howland, and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, had a successful 2005 Broadway run, ending with a 30-city U.S. tour culminating at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

“For my part, I favor shows with a strong story line that our audience hasn’t seen many times before. We also wanted a musical to feature the incredibly talented young women in our community,” said Perkins, who recently directed “As You Like It” and “The Secret Garden.”

As a musician, Williams was drawn to the expressive compositions. “The composer wrote for a 12-piece pit which we reduced to fit our smaller space. Howland’s music captures the feeling of the Civil War era, pulling from traditional American parlor tunes (“Off to Massachusetts”) and operetta (“Weekly Volcano Press”) while writing in an American Musical Theater-style to establish the world of the March family. As passionate Jo remembers days gone by, the sentimental feeling is expressed through high energy.” Williams has previously worked with the Belfast Area High School and Midcoast Actor’s Studio.

The play’s protagonist, Jo March, is played by triple-threat talent Abby Boucher—a UMaine computer engineering student who grew up singing, dancing, and performing in Texas. “When the Maskers announced that ‘Little Women’ would be this summer’s musical, I knew I had to try[out] for Jo. She’s such an iconic character—both in literature and in musical theater—who pushes me outside of my comfort zone in every single rehearsal,” said Boucher, who will be remembered as Martha in the Maskers production of “The Secret Garden.”

The multi-level set has been co-designed by Steve Nickerson and Perkins to nestle in the 100-seat jewel-box theater. “We envisioned the special space where Jo March can retreat and bring her dreams to life,” states Perkins. Costumes authentic to the period are being created by Sandy Hall and Linda Marie.

“Little Women” runs July 22 through Aug. 1, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at belfastmaskers.com at $20 adults/$15 age 17 and younger; 15% discount for groups of six or more. For more information, call 207-619-3256 or email info@belfastmaskers.com.