Saturday, July 26, 2008

Little House on the Stage

As a kid, I was obsessed with the opening credit sequence of the wholesome TV classic Little House on the Prairie. It was always comforting to hear that familiar theme music, even though the show that followed often dealt with the harsh realities of such a life. I would always wait for little Carrie Ingalls to go tumbling down that hill, and was confused when Big Edie would tell me (seemingly every week) that Lindsay Sidney Greenbush was actually two people. Did that mean that Melissa Sue Anderson was too?

The big star of the show, of course, was Melissa Gilbert as Laura "Half Pint" Ingalls, who would grow up to write the stories the series was based upon. And now, Gilbert herself is all grown up (and glammed out) and currently starring as Caroline "Ma" Ingalls in a musical version of those same books, making its world premiere tonight at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

The new tuner, directed by Francesca Zambello (Broadway's The Little Mermaid) and featuring the music of Oscar winning composer Rachel Portman (Emma) with a book by Tony Award winning librettist Rachel Sheinkin (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), has already proven to be a big draw. Its limited engagement has been extended by two weeks. In addition to Gilbert, the cast includes familiar Broadway faces Steve Blanchard and Jenn Gambatese.

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