The March family gets bad news about the fate of Mr. March, who is fighting in the Civil War, in The Merc Playhouse production of Little Women that opens this Friday in Twisp. Filling the roles are, from left, Gretta Eberline as Amy, Amelia Eberline as Jo, Lori Ludeman as Meg, Jill Beckerman as Mrs. March, Cecelia Odell as Beth and Renda Grim as Hannah. Photo by Don Nelson

The March family gets bad news about the fate of Mr. March, who is fighting in the Civil War, in The Merc Playhouse production of Little Women that opens this Friday in Twisp. Filling the roles are, from left, Gretta Eberline as Amy, Amelia Eberline as Jo, Lori Ludeman as Meg, Jill Beckerman as Mrs. March, Cecelia Odell as Beth and Renda Grim as Hannah. Photo by Don Nelson

By Laurelle Walsh

Louisa May Alcott’s beloved American novel, Little Women, depicts a year in the life of an ordinary family caught up in the tumult of the Civil War.

The Merc Playhouse in Twisp presents Kristin Laurence’s historically faithful stage adaptation of Little Women for its 2013 holiday show opening this Friday (Dec. 6), and running through Dec. 22. Evening performances are Thursdays through Saturdays, beginning at 7 p.m., with a weekly Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available online at mercplayhouse.org or at the door one-half hour before show time. Adult tickets are $15; youth 18 and under get in for $5. A pay-what-you-can performance is on Thursday, Dec. 12.

“It’s like a window into another time,” according to Merc Artistic Director Ki Gottberg. The period piece, “quite faithful to the book,” gathers scenes that are iconic for the characters first made famous by Alcott in 1868, Gottberg says.

The play begins one Christmas when Mrs. March, “Marmee,” must leave her four teenage daughters at home while she goes to tend her husband, who has fallen sick in the war. Through a series of domestic mishaps, the sisters learn just how much their mother does for them, along with some other valuable life lessons.

The story concludes the following Christmas as the “little women” of the March family prepare to be reunited with their father.

“Girls had to learn a very different way of being a young lady in those days,” living with expectations that seem foreign to us today, Gottberg says. For example, one character returns home from a party horrified to admit that she had flirted with a boy, unladylike behavior in those days, says Gottberg.

The women of the all-female cast learned not only to speak and comport themselves as ladies of the 1860s, but also to move on stage in period costumes that include corsets, hoop skirts, bonnets and gloves, created by Seattle costume designer Pete Rush.

“Watching modern women learn to navigate around furniture in these big skirts has been really funny,” says Gottberg.

“The audience will be charmed by the actors themselves. They are giving it their all,” especially the youngest, fifth grader Gretta Eberline, who held up bravely to the rigors of long rehearsals in her role as Amy, Gottberg says.

Other cast members include Lori Ludeman as Meg, Amelia Eberline as Jo, Cecelia Odell as Beth, Jill Beckerman as Marmee, Jane Pappidas as Aunt March, Renda Grim as Hannah, Lauren Kurtz as Sallie Moffatt, and Anne Andersen playing Aunt Carroll.

To help center the play in its time period, Gottberg and Phyllis Daniels created a hand-painted stage backdrop that features a collage of faces from the Civil War: Abraham Lincoln, soldiers from the North and the South, and portraits of people of that era.

“I want to remind people that this is just one little house of many houses that were impacted by the war. It depicts the people left behind, the universal pain that is experienced by people in any war,” Gottberg says.

The Merc debuts its brand-new lighting system with this production, newly installed and programmed with the help of lighting technician Mike Doran. “It’s fantastic what we will be able to do with lights now,” says Gottberg.

The Merc Playhouse is located at 101 S. Glover St. in Twisp. For more information call 997-7529.