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Find out what our director Justine Sutcliffe has to say about Little Women

Meet the Cast!​

Little Women  -  the classic Louisa May Alcott novel adapted for the stage by Emma Reeves.

Little Women tells the classic story of the four spirited March sisters growing up in genteel poverty against the backdrop of the American Civil war that looms in the background. Conjoined with her later classic Good Wives, Reeves' charming adaptation sensitively illustrates the sisters' path to maturity encompassing the many reversals of fortune in their lives. The romantic, tragic and comic elements are flawlessly captured, successfully creating an emotional journey that tugs at the heartstrings.

So lets meet the team who will bring this classic to life on the Hippodrome stage.

Rosie Nikolich - Jo March

Rosie spent most of her free time glued to her TV watching films. At fifteen, she tried an acting class and never looked back. Rosie trained with David Johnson Drama in Manchester, she has taken part in fringe and independent theatre. Rosie likes to try out her own material at Scratch Nights at the King’s Arms, Salford. Her favourite thing about performing is entertaining people. Aside from Little Women, Rosie will never forget playing Toad in Wind in the Willows as she had to jump around the stage….. like a toad! Rosie would love to play an evil character, perhaps a serial killer.

Her favourite thing about the Hippodrome so far has been the welcoming people.

Bethany Suthers – Meg March

Bethany started performing at the age of 11 when she got the role of ‘The Witch’ in her school show Robin Hood. Ever since she’s had a passion for performing and went on to gain a degree in theatre and professional practice. Since then, she has done a variety of performances. She was a face character and parade performer at Disneyland Paris and an actor onboard cruise ships as well as having a role in a Barclays advert and a lead role in feature film “One Day at a Time” which is currently doing the film festivals circuit. Bethany enjoys getting to be another person for a little while and escaping the everyday into a whole other world. She also likes the buzz that she feels just as she steps out on stage. Bethany absolutely loved performing as various Disney princesses at Disneyland Paris, it was truly magical. Not many people can say they lived their childhood dream of being a princess! Musicals wise Bethany would have to say her bucket list character is Mrs Lovett from Sweeny Todd The Demon Barber and play wise she would say Elvira from Blithe Spirit.

Bethany loves the people at the Hippodrome, as they’re so welcoming and finds it a joy to be a part of such a lovely society.

Hannah Sutcliffe – Beth March

Hannah got into acting, and theatre in general, because her family was very involved at the Hippodrome – it was where her parents met and she has been a member since she was born! In her first performance (A Christmas Carol) she was about 5 years old. Since then, she has been in many of the youth theatre musicals (her favourites were Les Misérables and CATS), and several plays such as Accrington Pals and The Merchant of Venice. Hannah’s favourite thing about performing is bringing a story to life and helping to make the theatre magic. Her favourite role she has played was Sophie in The Kitchen Sink. A role Hannah would love to play is another Sophie – this time from the BFG.

Hannah’s favourite thing about the Hippodrome is the people she has met from being a part of the theatre, and the friends she has made –  although the cheap bar is a very close second!

Isabelle Craven – Amy March

Isabelle has been performing in shows since she was around 14 years old. She loves the feeling of performing to a live audience and entertaining! Isabelle has performed in various stage musicals locally, including Mary Poppins, Oliver! and Jesus Christ Superstar. She is also a vocalist and studies at The Arden School of Theatre. Isabelle enjoys the feeling of getting an audience’s live reaction, and being able to play pretend with characters so different to herself. Her favourite role she has played is Chief Weasel in The Wind In The Willows. She enjoyed the combination of humour and being the villain of the show! Her bucket list character would be either Christine in Phantom of The Opera or Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

Isabelle loves the sense of community at the Hippodrome and how many friendships she has made through being part of the society.

Nick Birchill – Teddy Laurence

Nick was first inspired to start acting after seeing pantomimes as a child with his grandparents. He then started acting in school and all the way through university – although his role in Little Women is the first time he’s performed in about ten years. Nick has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in 2010 and 2011 – before that, he was in the National Youth Theatre before studying English and Drama at the University of Sheffield where he performed in lots of student plays. One aspect of performing that Nick enjoys the most is the opportunity to work with and collaborate with different groups of people as one big family. Nick’s favourite role was playing George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life when he was in college. His “Bucket List” character is Mac in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

As a new member of the Hippodrome, Nick loves the welcoming team of people that make the venue and TAODS such a special group to be a part of.

Liv Bellamy-Brown – Marmee

Liv was in an am-dram society as a child and thought she would give it a go when she moved to Todmorden, and so joined the Hippodrome in 2014. Her first role here was the cook in Night Must Fall, followed by Ruth in Blithe Spirit and joining the ensemble for Grimm Tales. Sha has also helped backstage for musicals. Liv enjoys performing because it feels like being a kid again and playing dress up! Her favourite role that she has ever had is definitely the cook in Night Must Fall, she was an hilarious character. Liv says her “bucket list” role would be Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, or basically any over the top, funny, or silly woman.

Liv loves the escapism of theatre – when she’s at the Hippodrome, in whatever capacity, she can totally switch off from work.

Sam Garforth – Aunt March

Sam got into acting a long, long time ago when she was at Nursery School when she got bumped from playing Mary in the nativity because she walked too fast for a pregnant lady. However she got a much better role as a narrator - got more to say! Since then she has been in many shows at school and beyond. She joined the Hippodrome 21 years ago to do Sweeney Todd and has been involved with many shows with them since. Her favourite role was Narissa in Merchant of Venice. What she enjoys most about performing is getting into the character, it’s almost like having an alter ego. She would like to play Lady Bracknell if she ever got the opportunity. What she loves about being part of the Hippodrome society is the sense of community. 

Everyone is welcoming, encouraging and supportive, allowing you to step out of your comfort zone and go for parts you wouldn’t think of going for.

Hamish Heald – John Brooke

Hamish has always enjoyed performing; his father was a real inspiration to him. He was very active on-stage during school, but only got back into performing for an audience in the last few years here at the Hippodrome (Hobson’s Choice, West Side Story, Grimm Tales). Hamish says that he loves being part of a community theatre that is so well supported and appreciated – it’s just an all-round great experience. For him, Grimm Tales was a real highlight – performing such a fun, interactive show in-the-round was a delight. Hamish’s first high school roll was in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui – he’d like to have a crack at one of the leads one day.

Of the Hippodrome, Hamish says, what an amazing building – Todmorden is very lucky to have it.

Richard Holley – Friedrich Bhaer

It was Richard’s love of films that first got him into acting – particularly the baddies – he always loved the villains in pantos as a child. He’s been performing since his university days in 2004. He has been with TAODS for about 13 years but has played elsewhere too. For Pendle Borderline in Colne, he played serial killer Ralph in Frozen, the most challenging part he has ever done. He most enjoys researching the characters, coming up with ideas, and getting “in the zone” on stage. His favourite performances have been the half-human, half-hedgehog character Hans in Grimm Tales, and Shylock in the Merchant of Venice. Richard would love to play Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol, George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Hamlet, and Richard III.

Richard loves the Hippodrome building. He says it is extraordinary and every time he sees the stage, the sense of wonder never fails to grab him.

Justine Sutcliffe - Director

Justine’s parents were both heavily involved in theatre - apparently, they used to take her to rehearsals in her carrycot and tuck her under the auditorium seats! She started out at a drama group in Halifax then, at age 11, joined TOYS here at the Hippodrome. She appeared in plays and musicals through her teens before she moved to directing in her 20s. Justine loves performing – she says there’s nothing like being on stage but directing means she gets to make all the creative decisions and seeing her vision come to life is a truly rewarding experience. Justine’s favourite role to play was Geraldine in The Vicar of Dibley and her bucket list character was Portia - she couldn’t believe her luck when she got to play her here a few years ago. Directing-wise, her proudest moments have been RENT, Calendar Girls, and Grimm Tales.

The Hippodrome has been a massive part of her life – she has met some of her best friends here and has an enormous sense of pride in what we achieve as a voluntary organisation. But Justine says most importantly, it was falling in love with one of our lighting engineers that changed her life!

An Interview with the Director

So, how’s it going?

Ha, it’s great! We’ve got a great cast who are all totally committed. I’m enjoying getting to know our new performers too. We’ve had some missed rehearsals due to the dreaded Covid – but everyone has pulled together and we’re well on the way. It was our first rehearsal on stage last night and I got really giddy!

What made you choose Little Women?

I was asked to direct a much different play – but it wasn’t available to license, so I got a bit of free rein. I love telling a good story and have been wanting to do something period for a while - the society wanted something female heavy (after the all boy cast of Neville’s Island), so Little Women fit all the criteria. It’s an old favourite of mine - as a young teenager, I adored Jo March and Anne Shirley (of Green Gables) they were my kind of girls… flawed, headstrong heroines!

It’s quite an old book. What can a modern-day audience take from the story?

At first read, it’s a romantic bit of fluff – but Louisa M Alcott was an early day feminist. Jo is far from the perfect little lady and has no desire to fit the societal norm! In fact, Alcott never intended for Jo to marry – she was supposed to become a literary spinster (like Alcott herself). We have debated long and hard if Alcott sold out – but the book is a product of its time and Jo’s ending suits her, I think. Not everything that is in the book comes out in the play – in fact the adaptation we’re presenting has shied away from using many of the more famous quotes. But my cast – especially Rosie who plays Jo are all fans and we are determined to be as true to Alcott’s rebellious girl as we can!

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of directing?

Oh, I love all of it! I get to make all the decisions – my opinion matters! I love creating the look and feel of a piece, linking costume ideas to scenery and lights, selecting the right music, coaxing the performers to give as much as they can. It’s hard work and fitting this hobby around real life and a job can leave no spare time – I’ll sleep for a week when it’s over = but, ultimately, I get to stand at the back of the theatre on opening night and soak up the audience reaction.

You’ve been directing for almost 30 years – what are your proudest achievements to date?

I’m proud of them all in different ways – When the Wind Blows was my first serious play and I will be forever grateful that I got to work alongside my Dad who designed the most awesome set – pre and post atomic bomb; Calendar Girls was just something else – working with such brave and talented women; bringing Grimm Tales into the Stalls and performing in the round was a fabulous experience for us all – but it’s RENT that holds my heart. I think that’s when I really came into my own as a director, it was a very special moment in time for many of us here at the Hipp.

What do you think makes you a good director?

I try to always think like the audience – what do they need from the performance to really become invested in the characters and the story we are telling? I do quite a bit of research and wider reading – I like to start with the big picture and drill down to the details. I am quite collaborative – I know my strengths, but I like to think I know the strengths of the team around me, on stage as well as off, so I take on board advice and ideas from others. I allow my cast to play with their characters, to explore their own motivation and emotions. But ultimately, the buck stops here – I make the final call. After all, it’s my job to get the best out of everyone, cast and crew. I try to smile a lot and keep positive – but I’m not past a hard-word where it’s needed.

I’ll tell you a secret though… every time I direct, I am wracked with nerves – the night before auditions, I don’t sleep, convinced no-one will come to be in the performance. I have huge bouts of imposter syndrome, even after 29 years.

What performances have inspired you – what would you love to direct?

Oh, I’ve seen some amazing theatre in my time – seeing Cats in its preview week and meeting Andrew Lloyd-Webber now feels like a dream, watching Robert Lindsay in Hamlet at the Royal Exchange was a pivotal moment for ten-year-old me, Miss Saigon and Les Mis as a teenager were just awe-inspiring, War Horse blew me away, Come From Away had me reeling for days… But then you see something small and independent and feel so lucky to have caught it – The Glasshouse at 53two recently and The Rink at the Library Theatre back in the 80s are both examples of that.

What would I like to direct? 

Well, Educating Rita and Blood Brothers are on my list for sure, Pride and Prejudice* (Sort Of) would be great fun, Miss Saigon would be amazing… but there are great plays and musicals out there that aren’t so well-known.

Fact is - I’ll direct anything that tells a good story!