For the next two weekends, the Lincoln Cultural Center’s Timken Performance Hall will come to life as 11 actors take the stage to recreate the classic story of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
“It’s a way to understand people back then,” actor Bethany Hilmu, 18, said.
Hilmu, a recent Lincoln County graduate, fills the role of headstrong “Jo March,” one of four tight-knit sisters tackling life, love and family relationships in New England during the Civil War era.
“That’s why it’s so great — there are so many themes,” Director Christina Banner said.
While Banner, just 23 and also manager of Lincolnton clothing store Hi-Lites, borrowed most of the costumes from the Green Room Community Theatre in Newton, she also stitched together a handful of outfits that the facility or cast members weren’t able to provide.
Her first time directing a larger production, she always thought acting would be her primary passion. She even majored in the art in college. Ironically, she now feels more confident behind the scenes than on stage.
“I’m an overachiever,” she said. “I love bossing people around and being in control.”
More importantly, she enjoys using her directing skills to “bring things to life.”
“The theater is so magical,” Banner said.
The performance is the second large-scale production for Hilmu, who made her acting debut in a lengthier, more grandiose show “Scrooge” with the Theatre Guild in December.
She has also been a part of various other smaller productions.
With blonde, braided pigtails and a giant hoop skirt, the dress of choice for many of the show’s female actors, Hilmu brings her independent character to life, portraying a headstrong woman who faces many joys, sorrows and eventually a romantic fairytale of her own over the course of the story.
“The best part (of acting) is bringing to life classic literature and reenacting it and breathing life into it,” Hilmu said.
For Travis Sinclair, who suits up in dress slacks, a vest and tie to play the sophisticated part of “John Brooke,” the professor of Jo’s best friend “Laurie,” theatre is only a recent hobby.
“I never thought at 32 I would be trying out something new,” he said.
Little Women is his first acting gig, but he is confident he will pursue additional plays in the future, auditioning for anything and everything he can, except musicals, joking about his lack of talent in the singing department.
Sinclair’s motivation for flocking to the Theatre Guild’s summer production stemmed from what he calls his “big ego.”
“I thought, ‘I can do that,’” he said.
Once rehearsals commenced in April, he became quite fond of the stage and quickly developed a new interest in the art.
“I’ve had the time of my life,” he said.
Seasoned actor Penny Post Schrum worked with Banner nearly a decade ago when the two performed in the Green Room’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Schrum revealed she was “thrilled” to learn she would once again be alongside Banner, but in a different type of working relationship.
While Schrum grew up acting, she left the stage for more than 20 years to raise children and delved back into one of her favorite hobbies 10 years ago.
She particularly enjoys how a number of actors can read the same script yet interpret the words and fill a role so differently by tapping into personal experience and connecting with ones similar to those of certain audience members.
In Little Women, Schrum takes on the character of “Aunt March,” whom she describes as “the crabby old maid.”
“She’s wealthy and very stern,” she said, “but her demeanor masks her love for her nieces–almost like a tough-love thing. She just cares so desperately for them to be brought up well.”
Banner encouraged the community to attend the show and see what her cast has furiously been working on over the last two months.
“I’m really proud of what they accomplished,” she said.
Doors will open 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday for the shows, which will be at the Lincoln Cultural Center in Lincolnton.
Additional performances will be June 21-23. Tickets are available at lincolntheatreguild.com.