I don’t know if a more dedicated “Little House on the Prairie” fan exists…
If my friend Kristine’s husband had consented, my pal would have changed her name to Laura Ingalls Wilder long ago. This is a woman who would rearrange her daily schedule (mind you she has two kids) to watch “Little House” reruns when they aired on local TV up until about a year ago. She has all the books, the books on tape, walls lined with videos she recorded when the show used to air on TBS… no doubt about it; Kristine is a die-hard “Little House” devotee.
So imagine how thrilled I was to be the one to inform her that her beloved books were being turned into a musical. That’s right; Laura Ingalls Wilder is coming to the stage and even more exciting for Kristine is the fact that the musical will make its debut in the state directly to the west of us—Minnesota—the place where the author spent many of her childhood years.
The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis will host “Little House on the Prairie—The Musical” next summer. Theater directors say if it has a successful run in the Twin Cities it could go national. Given that the books are set in the Midwest, I can’t see where else they would possibly debut the musical.
I can’t imagine there is a soul out there who is not familiar with “Little House on the Prairie,” but if you happen to be the one I should tell you that the books that Kristine cherishes present a version of Laura Ingalls’ years growing up in the 1870s and 1880s, when her family lived in Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota and South Dakota.
The show’s director recently told a Minnesota newspaper that she has wanted to make a musical of the “Little House” stories from the moment she rediscovered them as an adult. She says the musical will focus on “the independent spirit of the teenager Laura Ingalls Wilder and her struggles to become an adult, alongside the story of the land as it becomes the American West.”
And lest you think the upcoming “Little House on the Prairie—The Musical” will be anything less than a top-notch production, consider that the show’s creator, Francesca Zambello, has directed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Washington Opera, Houston Grand Opera and the Royal Opera in London. In addition, the book for the musical is being written by Rachel Sheinkin, who in 2005 won the Tony for best book of a musical for Broadway’s “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Also, Rachel Portman, who won an Oscar winner for her score of “Emma,” has signed on to compose the music.