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Jo - The Little Women Musical - interview

With Alcott's tale still as beloved as ever, a fresh theatrical reimagining is on the horizon as Jo - The Little Women Musical is hoping to head Broadway bound. Entering the world of Jo March, the emotional story details her love, loss, and sisterhood as she becomes an ambitious, aspiring writer. Using her passion to carve a life for her family, she must navigate a mission of self-discovery in this timeless piece.


The creative team for the production consists of: Dan Redfeld (composer), Christina Harding (co-

writer/lyricist), and John Gabriel Koladzieg (co-writer/lyricist). Between them, they have given a wonderful insight into the makings of the musical.


 


Can you tell us a bit about the show and what it means to you to be working on it?


Creative Team: Jo is a love letter to Louisa May Alcott’s timeless novel. It has been a rather harmonious experience writing together as we’re close friends as well as collaborators. We enjoy creating characters and stories together. 




How did you become familiar with the classic narrative of Little Women, and how does this adaptation bring a fresh perspective?


Dan Redfeld: When I saw the 1994 Gillian Armstrong adaptation, I was incredibly moved by its themes of sisterhood, finding one’s voice, and female empowerment - but also a positive depiction of the principal male characters. Upon reading the novel shortly thereafter, Louisa May Alcott’s brilliance and artistry on the page only deepened my love for the work, and I felt it needed to be musicalized. I was also raised by a single mother and recall her and my sisters singing and harmonizing on weekend mornings to the radio. It’s a very happy memory, and when I began writing the score, the notion of writing four and five-part for Marmee and the March girls was a way of immortalizing that recollection. 


Creative Team: Since it was first published, “Little Women” has inspired every generation to retell the tale in some form. Its impact on readers is truly profound. Jo is our interpretation of the source material, and we tried to depict the essence of this beloved story. It hugs the edges of the novel closely, but it’s also a bit of our own personal fan fiction. We wanted to honor Louisa May Alcott’s characters, but also see what else might happen to them if we plucked at a couple of the interwoven threads in the story’s tapestry. 




What do you think the musical version captures that the other mediums don't?


Creative Team: Musicalizing the narrative emphasizes the immediacy and intensity of the characters’ emotional state. It creates a vibration that connects to the audience’s emotions in turn. We felt that the March sisters wanted to tell their stories at this heightened level and that their voices had a timeless resonance that was perfectly suited to a musical format. 




How have you found the writing/composition role in the production - what have been your highlights so far?


Creative Team: The writing process has been incredibly rewarding - sometimes challenging - because you put so much of yourself into the characters and the world. And of course, the collaboration we have as a team is a major highlight. It is so fun to get into a room with people you click with, both mentally and artistically. It’s exciting to solve a problem or create a new moment that doesn’t exist until you tackle it together. The payoff happens when you turn the material over to amazing actors and hear them perform a song or scene you’ve been working on. It comes to life in way that not only informs you whether something is working or not, but also fills you with tremendous joy. 




How does the music amplify the themes explored and enhance the storytelling?


Creative Team: The intense emotions of young adulthood, of love and loss, and personal growth are all captured sonically. The score is constructed like a film score with musical motifs attached to the characters. The orchestration, which is cinematic in scope and feel, also highlights and emphasizes the emotions and connections between the characters. The theme and importance of finding and valuing your own voice is hopefully expressed through these musical and lyrical devices. Each sister has her own story, her own dream, and her own musical theme. These distinctive leitmotivs morph and develop as they grow through the story. Jo as a writer has a dynamic shift where she discovers her unique literary voice. Jo’s voice, like her musical theme, could never be mistaken for anyone else’s. 




How have you ensured that the development of each of the individual characters is unique, but also fits together as their family unit?


Creative Team: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are all iconic archetypes of American women. The source material is so rich with character development for each of the March sisters, and we can’t help but love them all deeply. Of course, we each have our favorite, as any fan of the novel would. We tried to honor that in the material. The characters and themes are timeless, as are the conflicts and obstacles they face. The beauty of Alcott’s piece is that it is a resonant story of family. And because it is so sprawling, it is filled with many threads and ideas which can be extracted and woven together from the personal perspective of those who feel inspired to adapt it. In the case of Jo, we have focused on the family but also a strong sense of female empowerment, partnership and the

notion that no one is alone. 




Who inspires you throughout your work?


Dan Redfeld: The great composers of the classical repertoire - Rachmaninoff and Puccini, for example, and film composers such as John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner. And of course, Stephen Sondheim, Richard Rodgers and Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

 

Christina Harding & John Gabriel Koladziej: Cole Porter, Dorothy Parker, David Bowie, Tom Waits, Howard Ashman, Charles Bukowski, Paul Simon, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and Rodgers and Hammerstein is the beginning of a long list. 




Where do you hope to see the successes of this show go?


Creative Team: We hope to see it on stages around the globe. We feel that what we’ve written will fill audiences with joy, memorable tunes, romance, and a beautiful evening of theatre with a lot to say. More than anything, we want to connect with people and connect people to each other, and the theater is one of the best time-honored ways to do that.



 

What a fantastic interview! Huge thanks to the Jo creative team, Dan, Christina and John for your excellent contributions - it has been such a pleasure to hear from you. Best of luck with the show going forward: it sounds destined for great things.


Listen to some of the music from the show here:


American readers, keep an eye out for tickets to catch this soon!



Additional thanks to Dustin Fitzharris for coordinating this interview.



Some grammar has been amended for clarity, but Americanisations remain (given it originates there).

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