As difficult as it is to portray a beloved literary character, it may be even harder to imagine a more perfect Jo March than Casey Erin Clark. Bold, funny and possessing a luminous smile that brightens even the cheap seats, Clark is excellent as the young woman who dreams of making it as a writer, not just as a wife. The costumes, by Lou Bird, are beautiful, James Wolk's sets are clever and effectively evoke place and time, and the cast as a whole is pretty terrific. The music and lyrics (by Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein respectively) are mostly forgettable, except for the bouncy Off to Massachusetts. The real beauty is in Allan Knees book, in which the dreams of the four March sisters are treated with respect and love; Megs (Christy Morton) budding relationship with Mr. Brooke (Sean Hayden) is treated as sweetly as young Amys (Cary Michele Miller) transformation from tag-along sister to a lady of society. High marks also to the ever-enjoyable Ben Nordstrom as Laurie; hes always a delight to watch, and hear. Presented by Stages St. Louis at the Roberts Orpheum Theater (416 North Ninth Street; 314-821-2407 or www.stagesstlouis.org) through December 20. Tickets are $27 to $63.70.
Tuesdays-Sundays; Dec. 16-20. Starts: Dec. 5. Continues through Dec. 13, 2008