Hot on the heels of the popular Hollywood remake, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland present Little Womenthe Broadway musical. Their father’s away fighting in the American Civil War but the March girls are determined not to mope. Oldest sister Meg needs to muster her courage to attend her first ball. Jo is determined to become a famous writer. Amy, the youngest, is fretting that her flat nose is going to impede her social success. And Beth is just happy that the sisters are all together.

Like the film, the musical version of Louisa May Alcott’s best-selling book starts in the ‘present’ day when Jo’s living in New York, determined to sell her writing to an appreciative audience. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn about the sisters’ lives together back home in Concord, Massachusetts as they grow up mostly gracefully together.

This is a spirited and sweetly sincere production from these talented students. Some of the Pollyanna-ish sentiments are somewhat harder to swallow today than they might have been in the 1860s but it’s all tribute to the cast that eternally patient Marmee March (Emily Tracey) and long-suffering Beth (Kristina Fehse) in particular deliver them with such conviction that they don’t seem trite. A neat set and colourful costumes (Claire Halleran) help the scenes skip along seamlessly. And the eight piece live band provide a boisterous accompaniment to some fun songs and the cast’s consistently strong vocals.

Lydia DeLuca as the spirited Jo is all gawky awkwardness and defiant determination to dream at a time when women were really only meant to have babies. Pien van Meegan‘s Aunt March is loftily alarming but all to alert to the vulnerability of a single woman’s position in society. Amy (Lorna Baxter) is suitably irritating but grows into a graceful bride. The men don’t get much of a look in but Laurie (Adam Makepeace), the boy next door, is irrepressibly charming and John Gurdian is an endearingly tentative German professor.

Ken Alexander‘s tightly orchestrated show is frothy, fun and full of heart, just like the Marsh sisters, with enough in there of love and loss to more than merit its staging 150 years on.