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October 26, 2023

Marching its way through UIL

Cowboy Theatre Company puts on a timeless performance of “Little Women”
Wendy Le
Coppell High School senior Elise Howe as Marmie March, New Tech @ Coppell High Lucy Martinson as Beth, CHS junior as Sanjana Sreemushta as Jo, senior Olivia Willey as Meg kneeling besides Marmie and New Tech @ Coppell High junior Ellie Reese as Amy on the ground in the CHS Auditorium on March 8. The Cowboy Theatre Company production of “Little Women” goes through the lives of the four March sisters during the Civil War as they transition from girlhood to womanhood.

As the lights dim, showcasing two young girls, familiar words echo: “Tell me a story, Jo.” In the Coppell High School Auditorium, the Cowboy Theatre Company brings the “Little Women” production to life in its public viewing in preparation for UIL. “Little Women” is about a journey the four March sisters face coming into maturity. The story focuses primarily on Jo, a writer who rejects femininity and the typical norms that society attaches to women. 

Junior Sanjana Sreemushta, who plays the headstrong character of Jo, draws inspiration solely from the script. She navigates the challenges of portraying a character different from her typical roles.

“Even though I did know of the other two and I have read and watched the movie, I looked at the script independently and crafted my character just through the script, ” Sreemushta said. “The thing I find most challenging is portraying the realism, because I’m very used to exaggerated characters that are less real and more comical.”

Coppell High School junior Sanjana Sreemushta as Jo March breaks down upon finding out Amy burned her novel in the fire in the CHS Auditorium on March 8. The Cowboy Theatre Company production of “Little Women” goes through the lives of the four March sisters during the Civil War as they transition from girlhood to womanhood. (Wendy Le)

Through the characters’ challenges, the audience relates to the growing pains of adolescence. With themes of finding oneself in the world as a woman, “Little Women” is an empowering play that shows that you can write your own story, even if it doesn’t meet societal standards. 

“The entire time, Jo is trying to rebel against the idea of the stereotypical woman. She thinks that through her rebellion, she’s going to find herself. What the story really is that she has to define what it means to be a woman,” technical director Grace Hellyer said. “It’s not that she’s rejecting standard traditional feminine roles, she’s also realizing that just because she does not fall into that, that doesn’t mean that she’s less of a woman than anyone else.”

It was important for the cast to maintain the meaning of the play while simultaneously meeting UIL One-Act Play qualifications. Changes were made to make the production fit within the 40-minute time requirement. 

“Little Women’ by Kate Hamill is a full two-act play, it’s

Coppell High School sophomore Johan Padayatti as John Brooke proposes to senior Olivia Willey as Meg March in the CHS Auditorium on March 8. The Cowboy Theatre Company production of “Little Women” goes through the lives of the four March sisters during the Civil War as they transition from girlhood to womanhood. (Wendy Le)

about two and a half hours long. We’ve taken that entire script and cut little bits and scenes out and we’ve narrowed that down and focused on really one or two story lines to make it fit within the 40 minutes,” Hellyer said. “That’s really where the work of it is. It’s figuring out what’s the storyline that we want to focus on and tell and then how do we truly and accurately portray that in a way that is also respectful to the way Kate Hamill wrote this way.”

Due to UIL time constraints, stage managers found creative ways to make the production come together with props and lighting. They mixed abstract themes to create a cohesive and dynamic production that mirrored Jo’s inner thoughts as she grew throughout the play.

From my point of view as a stage manager, ‘Little Women,’ for this adaptation specifically, we are trying to play less into realism. What you saw on the set is trunks. There’s not really a set that is like what an audience would typically imagine, because we had to cut so much of the show and there’s no set changes,” senior stage manager Sarah Myers said, “The lighting and the special effects, like the LEDs, they add mood, and then also in this show specifically, the passage of time. We did that through Jo’s writing. When they’re gold, we’re in Jo’s mind, and she’s writing her story, and that story eventually becomes the story of her life.”

Through the many hours and weeks the cast and crew put into the play, “Little Women” stands as a captivating performance. This show has been important for the cast as they made lasting bonds through bringing this adaptation to life.

“This company has put in a lot of work and even if we don’t get to where we want to go, like state, region or we don’t advance as far as we want, I think they’re all very proud of the work that they’ve done and how bonded they’ve had to be,” Myers said.

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About the Contributors
Pranavi Ramineni
Pranavi Ramineni, Staff Writer
As you walk into the lavender room of Coppell High School sophomore Pranavi Ramineni, your eyes may catch the Haikyu poster, or a picture of Pranavi as a child with her grandfather, maybe her Coppell Middle School West Team Volleyball poster or the plethora of underwater watercolor paintings. Each of these are a facet of her identity. As your eyes continue to wander, they will set on the girl perched on her bed watching TV. You will first notice Pranavi’s hair, always out and as expressive as her. “There is a lot of my story behind my hair,” Ramineni said. “I cut my hair twice in elementary for cancer patients. In third grade, I cut it 12 inches. In fifth grade, I cut it eight inches.” But that inherent kindness to help the community shows in everything Pranavi does. As a first-year staffer on The Sidekick, Pranavi initially joined to surprise her friend for their birthday but continued because of her hopes to be a cartoonist and page designer. Regardless of whether she is painting with watercolor or singing for the Coppell Choir, Pranavi believes people can tell a story through a variety of mediums. In her free time, she enjoyed reading books, watching TV shows like the Real Housewives, or sitting at the local neighborhood park with friends that are able to be wholeheartedly themselves. In the future, Pranavi wants to apply computer science to the world of architecture and interior designing. You can contact her by emailing [email protected].
Elizabeth De Santiago
Elizabeth De Santiago, Staff Writer
Elizabeth De Santiago is a sophomore and first year staff writer. Outside of The Sidekick she likes to play the piano, listen to obscure music genres, and draw. She joined The Sidekick because she enjoyed writing short stories from a young age and admired the environment of the staff. She is a big fan of the Premier League and a fan of Manchester City. Elizabeth has two french bulldogs. Frye and Boo, who are 3 and 1 years old. She is typically found listening to Twenty One Pilots, Mitski, Pierce the Veil, Trippie Redd, Awich, Underscores and Joji. She likes to research and study fashion from Japan and France. Elizabeth would like to be a dermatologist or radiologist in the future. She has lived in Coppell her whole life and plans to stay in the Dallas area when She is older. Her favorite food is Calzones and her favorite place to eat is Chili’s. Elizabeth likes to shop at Forever 21, Hot Topic, Spencers, Boxlunch and Temu. Her usual Starbucks order is an iced chai tea latte with soy milk. She enjoys watching Boondocks, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Mean Girls. Elizabeth’s favorite place she’s traveled to is Disney World and dreams of traveling to Japan and Bora Bora. She is taking Chinese II and graphic design I. She has one younger brother named Matthew who is in 6th grade at Coppell Middle School North. Elizabeth attended Town Center Elementary School and Coppell Middle School North. You can contact her by email at [email protected].com.
Wendy Le
Wendy Le, Podcast Producer
Wendy Le is a junior and the podcast producer of The Sidekick. Through The Sidekick, she found her passion in photography and podcasting. In her free time, she enjoys scrolling through Pinterest, capturing mundane moments on camera and spending time with her friends and family.  When feeling burnt out, Le recharges her social battery by sitting in her bed and relaxing throughout the day. Listening to Lana Del Rey, specifically her Lust for Life album, helps bring a sense of peacefulness to her day. You can contact her at [email protected].

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