Behind the scenes at ‘Little Women’

By on March 1, 2017

Fewer people are going to the movies and theater these days because some think that ticket prices are too high. But what if you could see a quality production, and only pay what you could afford to do so?

That’s one of the premises behind Servant Stage Company. In 2016, the organization presented more than 100 performances to over 20,000 people, at “pay-what-you-want” prices.

This March, patrons will have the opportunity to see SSC’s season opener, “Little Women: The Musical,” paying whatever they like as a free-will donation. “Little Women: The Musical” is based on the 1869 autobiographical novel by the same name, by Louisa May Alcott. There are 20 original musical numbers in the production.

In addition to being an entertainment bargain, Servant Stage Company is completely portable.

“We perform in different venues every night, so our shows have to be able to be loaded in and out of different spaces easily,” said production manager Tyler Hoover. “This presents a unique creative challenge and opportunity at the same time.”

Portraying the March sisters in Servant Stage Company’s production of “Little Women” are (left to right) Grace Atherholt, as Amy; Heather Nicole, as Beth; Danielle Poznanovic, as Jo; and Leslie Talley, as Meg. (Photos by Melissa Hunnefield)

Portraying the March sisters in Servant Stage Company’s production of “Little Women” are (left to right) Grace Atherholt, as Amy; Heather Nicole, as Beth; Danielle Poznanovic, as Jo; and Leslie Talley, as Meg. (Photos by Melissa Hunnefield)

Hoover, a Warwick High School graduate, explained that this allows Servant Stage Company to take its shows anywhere. They’ve taken their productions to the band shell in Lititz Springs Park, and countless local churches and retirement homes.

“Servant Stage is unique in the fact that we produce a mixture of well-known Broadway musicals and plays, as well as original productions, but all under the umbrella of a family-friendly atmosphere that’s bringing some of the best performers in the region to those who wouldn’t normally be able to patronize professional theatres due to financial or physical limitations,” said Hoover. “In no other company have I ever seen all of these elements present together as they are in Servant Stage. What we offer is truly unique and we get to see and hear the impact we’re having on our patrons at every performance.”

Lily Brown, whose parents Karen and Steve own the Ephrata Main Theatre, fell in love with Servant Stage Company when she saw their production “Old Time Gospel Radio Hour” last summer.

“Their mission spoke to my heart and I knew I wanted to be a part of it right away,” the Ephrata native said. Brown serves as the show’s stage manager.

“I was a set painter and stage crew member at Cavod Theatre for about a year before I branched out to other local theaters. I then began stage managing for companies such as Theatre of the Seventh Sister and Itsy Bitsy Spider productions,” Brown explained. “ My heart is in the production aspect.”

Hoover, on the other hand, spent a great deal of time onstage before stepping behind the curtain.

“My first professional theater experience was a four-year stint as a child actor at Sight & Sound and I remained active in theater throughout high school and college,” he said. “In recent years, I have been blessed to be involved as an actor, director, writer, and composer with several of Lancaster’s theater companies, including Piercing Word and PRiMA.”

Even though Servant Stage Company has only been in existence since 2011, Hoover feels they’ve made a definite mark in the Lancaster theater community.

Lily Brown and Tyler Hoover are part of the crew at Servant Stage Company. Hoover is a Warwick High School graduate. Brown’s family owns Ephrata’s Main Theatre and Lily’s on Main.

Lily Brown and Tyler Hoover are part of the crew at Servant Stage Company. Hoover is a Warwick High School graduate. Brown’s family owns Ephrata’s Main Theatre and Lily’s on Main.

“The smiles and thanks we receive from so many of our patrons, particularly those in retirement homes and care facilities, makes the job worthwhile just by themselves,” he said. “There’s no question as to the impact of Servant Stage &tstr; it’s tangible and right in front of you with every handshake and expression of gratitude we receive after every show.”

Hoover says that “Little Women” is especially well-performed.

“This story has impacted generations with its themes of family, love, and following your dreams. This adaptation supports the heart of the novel, and despite being a modern show, it possesses in many ways the feel of a classic musical,” he said. “Additionally, I cannot overstate the quality of this cast. It is truly one of, if not the best, overall casts I’ve seen at Servant Stage to date.”

Brown echoed his sentiments.

“It’s an incredible, heartwarming show,” she agreed. “The whole cast and crew puts their all into every performance, and it shows.”

Show dates for “Little Women” are Fridays, March 3 and 10, at 7 p.m.; Saturdays, March 4 and 11, at 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m.; and Sundays, March 5 and 12, at 3:30 p.m. All shows are at Lancaster Alliance Church, 210 Pitney Road, Lancaster.

For tickets and more details about upcoming SSC productions, visit servantstagecompany.com, or call 603-247-4493.

Melissa Hunnefield is a staff writer at the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your questions and comments at 721-4452 or mhunnefield.eph@lnpnews.com.

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