The YA label is so new that we sometimes think of Young Adult Fiction as strictly contemporary, but every week I like to feature a book beloved by young adult audiences published at least fifty years ago.
This week, my featured novel is three times that in age–in 2018, Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women is celebrating its 150th anniversary!
While the book has always been a favorite of mine, the story lives closest to my heart as a piece of theatre. I saw some older girls from my school perform the two most dramatic hair-related scenes (Jo cutting her hair and the burning of Meg’s curls) in a little festival of vignettes when I was five and it blew my little mind, considering my love of writing and dresses and theatre and family and how dang much I cared about my hair.
In high school, I performed in a full-length stage play of the story with gorgeous costumes and a two-story set. I will give a yet-to-be-determined grand prize to anyone that can correctly guess which character I played. (Let’s say first guess only, 48-hour cutoff. But it doesn’t matter. Ya’ll won’t guess.) Before you ask, no, this was a straight play, not the Sutton Foster musical. I wish.
Despite the fact that the book is a century and a half old, this post has some news! News, of course, of the adaptation sort.
The quantity of screen versions of this story is overwhelming, but period film blog Willow and Thatch compiled a lovely primer of the century-old history of television and movie versions.
The most recent version was aired on PBS only this past May, having aired first on the BBC in 2017. I’m planning to watch this week!
And look – Angela Lansbury (!!!!) as Aunt March:
Another (completely different) version is slated for release in just a few months. I caught the trailer in front of the Mr. Rogers documentary (Yes, I saw that in theaters. It was amazing. I sobbed.) and actually thought it looked kind of nice. I am HIGHLY skeptical of a modern adaptation of this book, especially as a movie, but honestly, if you close your eyes and listen to the trailer, there’s not much of a difference. It might be interesting to see if some audience members can connect to the characters more easily without the barrier of period costumes. We shall see.