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Musical is part of Fall Festival in original novel’s 150th year

September 28th, 2018

Scene from Bethel production of "Little Women"

Little Women  Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center: Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Sunday, 3 p.m.

Little Women is the musical based on Louisa May Alcott's classic novel of the same name, will be on the Krehbiel Auditorium stage Friday-Sunday, Oct. 5, 6 and 7.

John McCabe-Juhnke, who’s directing this year’s Fall Festival musical, didn’t choose it because the beloved book is 150 years old.

That’s “a happy coincidence,” says the Bethel professor of communication arts. Alcott’s novel was first published Sept. 30, 1868, and the year 2018 is seeing numerous celebrations of its sesquicentennial, including a new movie (set in the present day) that opened Sept. 28.

McCabe-Juhnke chose Little Women, the Broadway musical with book by Allan Knee, music by Jason Howland and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, because there is “an especially deep pool of female talent” at Bethel right now, he said.

“[This musical] allows us to feature our strong women.”

He added, “For its time, the novel was very forward-looking in terms of the roles of women and independence of women. It’s really Jo’s story, of finding her way and realizing she’s not like most women [of her time].”

The musical is based on the semi-autobiographical, now-classic novel that focuses on the four March sisters – traditional Meg; high-spirited aspiring writer Jo; timid Beth; and romantic, artistic Amy – who struggle to make ends meet at home in Concord, Mass., while their father is away serving as a Union Army chaplain during the Civil War.

Several re-creations of the melodramatic short stories that Jo writes in her attic studio intercut the vignettes in which the four sisters’ lives unfold.

Little Women opened on Broadway in January 2005. That year, it received nominations for a Tony® Award, three Drama Desk Awards and an Outer Critics Circle Award.  

In addition to a surprisingly contemporary story, even after 150 years, McCabe-Juhnke says Little Women also has “to recommend it the fact that it’s a very family-friendly show, with really lovely, tuneful music.”

Bethel’s production of Little Women will be on the Krehbiel Auditorium stage in Luyken Fine Arts Center Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 6 at 3:30 p.m. and Oct. 7 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for non-Bethel students and adults age 65 and older, and $7 for children ages 3-12, and are available at Thresher Shop in Schultz Student Center, or by phone with a credit card at 316-284-5205, during regular business hours, Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m., or in the Luyken Fine Arts Center ticket office a minimum of one hour before show-time, subject to availability.

The cast of Little Women is Kaci Wilson, junior from Sterling, as Jo March; Nathan Kroeker, senior from Augusta, as  Professor Bhaer; Madison Hofer-Holdeman, junior from Wichita, as Beth March; Bethany Powls, freshman from Garnett, as Meg March; Addie Regier, sophomore from Newton, as Amy March; Polly Carlson, junior from Freeman, South Dakota, as Marmee; Connick Roe, senior from Kingman, as Laurie Laurence; Kendrick Weaver, junior from Hesston, as Mr. John Brooke; Ellie Bradley, freshman from Newton, as Aunt March; Matthew Garber, junior from Newton, as Mr. Laurence; Lauren Nehrbass, junior from Parsons, as Mrs. Kirk; Jessie Thomas, freshman from Sedgwick, as Clarissa; Nathaniel Schmucker, freshman from Moundridge, as Braxton; Jerod Kaufman, freshman from Moundridge, as Rodrigo; Emma Beachy, freshman from Kalona, Iowa, as Knight; Jaxie Gerk, sophomore from Holyoke, Colorado, as Hag; Charlotte Ehrmann, freshman from Augusta, as Troll; and Sarah Balzer, junior from Inman, as Rodrigo 2.

Assistant director, scenic designer and technical director is Damon Klassen, Bethel instructor of theater. The music director is William Eash, D.M.A., director of vocal music, with rehearsal accompanist Rich Toevs and choreographer Paige Kliewer-McClellan.

Jesse Balzer, sophomore from Hurley, S.D., is the sound designer and technician. Kelly Habeggar, sophomore from Hesston, is the stage manager.

The costume design is being done by a special outside volunteer – Kris Carlson of Freeman, S.D., who is also the mother of Polly Carlson, playing Marmee March.

“Kris has a lot of experience doing costumes for productions in the Freeman community,” McCabe-Juhnke said. “She was very excited when we asked if she could do this for us.”

For a complete Fall Festival 2018 schedule, see, or call 316-284-5251 for more information.

Bethel College is the only Kansas private college listed in the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, both for 2018-19. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.