The Civil War, the costliest war in U.S. history in terms of human casualties, caused everyone — from teenage recruits to families...

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The Civil War, the costliest war in U.S. history in terms of human casualties, caused everyone — from teenage recruits to families coping with limited resources on the home front — to cope with hardship.

Louisa May Alcott knew that world first hand. Her father, a dreamer, supported the abolition movement and was frequently away from home. Alcott’s novel “Little Women” was about four sisters in Concord, Mass., forced to grow up quickly while their father, a Union chaplain, was at war.

Alcott volunteered in Union hospitals during those dark years, and her sharp observations about the war’s impact on the home front became a runaway best-seller in 1868. It remains in print 140 years later.

Composer Kim Oler and lyricist Alison Hubbard saw its potential to be a musical, and after staged readings and extensive work on the East Coast, linked up with Village Theatre to present “Little Women,” the musical. It transfers to Everett from Issaquah on Friday for a run through May 18 at the Everett Performing Arts Center.

Bill Forrester’s staging exactly captures the tone of the piece, done as a memory play, with Jo March recalling a decade in the life of the March girls and their mother and father (played by Anne Allgood and Brian Higham).

Sets drop down gracefully as Jo’s mind calls up a scene, from the cosy March household to Parisian ballrooms. It’s a large story, and the musical numbers and reprises closely follow the book, adapted for the stage by Sean Hartley.

Meg (Krystle Armstrong), the oldest March girl, is a dreamer. Jo (Victoria Elem-Huston), the second oldest, is headstrong and tomboyish. Beth (Michaela Koerner), the next one in age, is a homebody and fragile. Amy (Shanna Marie Palmer), the youngest, is charming but self-centered, and at 12 is too young to grasp subtleties in conversation.

They grow into young womanhood during the show. “It was fun,” Elem-Huston said, “to focus on being a 15-year-old girl and then feel the transition and move into my actual age group, the mid-20s.”

Though she’s proposed to by Laurie, (Dane Stokinger), her handsome neighbor in Concord, Jo turns down his proposal of marriage and falls in love with a man twice her age, Professor Bhaer (Chad Jennings).

The actress has a comedic and romantic duet with Bhaer called “I’m Not Perfect,” telling him her shortcomings. Other memorable tunes include Jo’s anthem of independence, “There’s a World Out There,” and Marmee’s metaphors for her daughters, “I Have a Garden.”

“They say in musical theater that characters sing when they can no longer speak,” said Elem-Huston.

Diane Wright: 425-745-7815 or dwright@seattletimes.com