• Sean Friel

Hammonton Towne Drama performing Little Women


(Clockwise from left) Little Women’s March family: Ava Rue Way as Meg, Piper Byrne as Jo, Renee Rodio as Marmee, Cara Barse as Beth and Juliana Citrone as Amy. (Courtesy Photo)

The Hammonton Towne Drama Community Theatre (HTD) is excited to show off their newest production, Little Women. The show will be performed on August 11, 12 and 13 at 7 p.m. at Hammonton High School. The HTD is actively preparing for the show. Director Rachel Scott, musical director Robyn Berenato and choreographer Jenna DeLuca, who is also HTD’s Board President, are enthusiastic about the production, and their roles.


Berenato and Scott discussed the production, and why it means so much to the cast and crew.


Little Women is a classic tale of love, loss, ambition, and family,” Scott said.


Little Women is about the coming of age of four sisters who are extremely close in a very tumultuous time in American history,” Berenato said.


Berenato said that, in history, there is not much focus on the personal plights of young ladies.


She went on about the production further, giving an explanation of why the show is so important to modern day, and how it compares to some of the aspects of day-to-day life. Berenato said that, in history, there is not much focus on the personal plights of young ladies.


“I can’t drive home enough the historical aspect, and the coming of age of women. In history, there’s not a lot of focus sometimes on what young ladies go through personally. We hear about the women who made extreme breakthroughs making significant contributions in history, but I love hearing about how the regular girls made out. What were they going through, and their trials and tribulations… it really gives us a look into what the past is like and I love that,” Berenato said.


Scott described how the show was chosen.


“Honestly, I didn’t decide anything. The President of the Board of Hammonton Towne Drama, Jenna DeLuca, is a very good friend of mine and knows my theater experience. She mentioned she was looking for a director for her summer production and told me her three choices. I told her, ‘Well, if it’s Little Women, I’ll do it.’ I was in Little Women in college and it was the only show I was really familiar with. Maybe two weeks later she texted me that she got the rights for Little Women and that’s all she wrote,” Scott said.


DeLuca, Berenato said, asked her to help out because of Berenato’s passion for history.


“Jenna asked for input about which show to perform and my vote was for Little Women, simply because I’m a historian. I love historical pieces. It was ultimately up to her as president, so I was really excited that was the one she ultimately chose,” Berenato said.


Hammonton Towne Drama board president—and Little Women choreographer—Jenna DeLuca is flanked by the play’s director, Rachel Scott (left) and musical director Robyn Berenato (right), who also plays Aunt March in the production. (Courtesy Photo)

This is Scott’s first-time directing a show.


“It’s weird. In my 15 years of theater experience, I’ve never directed so it’s a way different experience than what I’m used to. But not in a bad way. I feel like a lot of my directing style is coming from all of the directors I’ve encountered in my career. I’m taking all of their good practices and making them my own and I’m fixing anything that they may have done that I didn’t particularly like. So I’m really coming into my own with it. I’m not used to having all of this power that comes with directing so it’s definitely a change,” Scott said.


The process of setting up the show for HTD was unique, which Berenato said is quite common.


“There’s a lot of variables, so the process never looks the same twice. You have to be extremely flexible when working in community theatre, but ultimately, it’s about setting a schedule, being very clear about expectations and making sure that your cast has every resource they need to be successful. Whether that’s access to music, access to you to ask questions, efficient rehearsal time, just making sure that the chemistry is there and that people are comfortable with their scenes,” Berenato said.


“I’d say set and lighting is definitely a challenge. Starting from nothing is different for me. I’m very used to that all being handled and not being the one who makes those calls design-wise. Scheduling is a challenge in the sense that I’m trying to be mindful of gas prices and not having everyone drive to rehearsal every day if they’re not needed. Then there is always the looming of COVID-19, making sure there is a plan in place in case the cast gets attacked by the virus. I was a Girl Scout so I’m not a stranger to the motto of ‘Be Prepared.’” Scott said.


Making sure that the cast and crew is comfortable in their positions is a big aspect of community theatre, as well as chemistry in scenes. However, Berenato told The Gazette that the cast and crew have been a great part of her experience with this production of Little Women, especially the director.


“I’ve had the best time. I will say that I have worked with Rachel before, and we are just a dynamic team. I never had the opportunity to work under her, previously it was the other way around, so I’m really excited to see her really grow in the role as our director. She has a fantastic creative mind, and she’s just amazing. It’s sort of like when the student becomes the teacher,” Berenato said.


Berenato said that even though the piece is historical, it still can relate to modern day.

“As historical as it is, it’s still very much a contemporary story because it still applies,” Berenato said.


Scott said that the audience can expect an amazing show.


“The audience can expect an amazing show. The talent we have is incredible, I feel immensely lucky to have each one of them on this journey with me. The story we’re telling is timeless and I’m honored to share it with the audience. My hope is that people will fall in love with these characters in a different way than they may have before,” Scott said.


Hammonton Towne Drama’s Little Women will be open to the public on August 11, 12 and 13. The show begins at 7 p.m. and the doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $12 on the Eventbrite link on their Facebook page.


Cast for Little Women: Jo March - Piper Byrne; Meg March - Ava Rue Way; Beth March - Cara Barse; Amy March - Juliana Citrone; Theodore Laurence III/ Rodrigo - Zachary Taglioli; Marmee - Renee Rodio; Professor Bhaer - Randall Bock; John Brooke/Braxton - Connor Perri; Aunt March - Robyn Berenato; Mr. Laurence/Knight - Neil-Thomas Murray.


Ensemble: Clarissa - Natalie Kahn; Mrs. Kirk - Bryanna Storck; Hag - Jenna DeLuca; Troll - Amelia York; Rodrigo II - Jordyn Storck; Additional Ensemble - Krista Gallagher.