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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 1:23 am | Fair 47º


For One Young Actress, ‘Little Women’ Marks a Big Turning Point

Chryanthe Pantages had her doubts at first, but her experience with the Showstoppers Theatre Productions' musical has her hooked.

Every year, aspiring triple threats ranging from the humblest singer to the most melodramatic thespian unite for the summer session of Showstoppers Theatre Productions.

Showstoppers is a nonprofit organization that gives teenagers the chance to sing, dance and act as they stage a Broadway musical. This year, we are putting on the musical Little Women.

Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women is about a poor but persevering family during the turbulence and hardship of the Civil War. The story centers on Jo, a rambunctious and passionate writer who strives to inspire and unite her sisters: the soft-spoken romantic Meg, kindhearted Beth, and naïve and wishful Amy. Together the four sisters, with their enduring mother, Marmee, fight their way through the obstacles each new day brings.

When I reluctantly agreed to join Showstoppers this year, I didn’t know what Little Women was about, and was going on the one song from its repertoire I had ever heard, Astonishing. I also had never been in a legitimate musical. All things taken into consideration, I may not have joined if I knew what I was getting myself into. Now, however, I fear I’m hooked for good, as Showstoppers has been a truly astounding experience.

When we first started this summer session, we were exposed to all the roles through songs and script reading. All of us were taught choreography for I’d Be Delighted and Five Forever in anticipation of the dance portion of tryouts. We also learned small group scenes, partner scenes and our choice of a selection of songs for auditions. After three days of tryouts, and several more of anxious anticipation, we were finally told the casting.

In the past five weeks, since the show was double cast, our two casts have learned to watch each other to synchronize our main staging, while also animating our characters with our individual style and nuance. We help each other in learning our lines, reviewing dances and practicing harmonies.

However, this show would not be possible without the help of several dedicated volunteers. Thanks to a host of adults, sets have been built, custom-made costumes sewn, and props from globes to beach buggies have been donated or built. This year, Showstoppers is supported by David Holmes of San Marcos High School Theatre Department, Mary Gibson of Santa Barbara City College Theatre Department, the UCSB Theatre Department, David Johnson and the Granada Theatre.

Meanwhile, several Showstoppers alumni make sure rehearsals run smoothly while also directing warm-ups, and working with cast members and characters individually on songs and scenes to improve what we take to the stage.

Chryanthe Pantages plays Jo in Showstoppers Theatre Productions Little Women.

» Little Women

» Showstoppers Theatre Productions

» 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday

» La Colina Junior High School, 4025 Foothill Road, Santa Barbara

» Tickets are $10 at the door

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