Elizabeth Andersen has a long history with Little Women.
She’s read the novel, watched movie versions and immersed herself in the music of the Broadway show.
She and her sisters are even a bit like the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s enduring tale.
“My older sister is the Meg type — sweet and beautiful, motherly. And Danielle, she’s our Amy,” Elizabeth said.
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The Andersen sisters don’t have a Beth. Instead, the youngest is a bit like all the March girls.
And what about Elizabeth? She’s the Jo.
So her latest acting role couldn’t be more fitting.
The 20-year-old from Kennewick plays the brave, creative, second-oldest March girl in the Academy of Children’s Theatre production of Little Women. The musical opens April 17, with performances over two weekends.
In the show, “We get to experience Jo coming of age and her finding herself and doing something not a lot of women were doing in the 1800s — (pursuing) writing as a career,” Andersen said. “Playing Jo has challenged me and (stretched) me as an actress.”
Andersen said she “will always appreciate and be grateful that I got to play this role.”
Alcott’s Little Women was published in two volumes in the 1860s. It inspired several movies, from a 1933 film starring Katharine Hepburn as Jo to the 1994 flick in which Winona Ryder took on the iconic role.
The Broadway musical debuted in 2005.
A major theme of the story is family.
For Andersen, the production has been a family affair. Her sister, Danielle, is part of the show too.
ACT’s Little Women also has some other family pairings, including mother-daughter and father-daughter combinations.
Josh Darby, director, said the story’s theme of family resonates. “ Little Women to me is a story that epitomizes family — growing up and knowing there are hardships in life, but as long as you have your family with you, you’re OK,” he said.
Darby also is ACT’s artistic director.
The Little Women cast includes 25 actors, both children and adults. Along with Andersen as Jo, Whitney Holland plays oldest sister Meg March, Olga Laskin takes on Beth March and Hannah Fewel plays Amy March, the youngest of the sisters.
Justin Raffa is providing musical direction, and the show is produced by Misty Fewel and Louann Smith.
Andersen grew up watching ACT shows but didn’t take part in one herself until she was older. Last year, she appeared in the company’s Annie, and she was in Twelfth Night earlier this year. She’s also appeared in other local productions.
This June, she’ll take part in The Rude Mechanicals’ Much Ado About Nothing. The new Tri-City theater company dedicated to Shakespeare and Shakespeare-inspired work is putting on the comedy on the outdoor stage at the Reach center in Richland.
Andersen said she loves singing and acting, and she hopes to make a career in the performing arts.
For now, she’s focused on bringing Jo March to life for Tri-City audiences.
The musical provides a full experience, she said.
“It has the deep-hearted, emotional rawness of real life, and then you have the sisters just having fun together, going to their first ball, experiencing all these wonders together,” Anderson said. “Basically, it’s a big ball of life.
Curtain time is 7 p.m. April 17-18 and 24-25, with 3 p.m. matinees April 18 and 25.
The show is at ACT, 213 Wellsian Way, Richland.
Cost is $13 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors and $7 for children under 13. Tickets are available by calling 509-943-6027, going to www.academyofchildrenstheatre.org or visiting the ACT office.