Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Big Musical On The Prairie

Big Musical On The Prairie

Long before Garrison Keillor's acclaimed "Prairie Home Com-panion" radio program, the flat farmlands of Minnesota were renowned for another prairie home: Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House On The Prairie" books.

Earlier this morning at Minneapolis' Guthrie, I was among those catching a sneak peek at the theatre's upcoming musical adaptation of Ingalls Wilder's beloved tomes.

Directed by Francesca Zambello (at podium), Little House On The Prairie - The Musical will begin its world premiere journey via previews on July 26, prior to its official opening on August 15. Rehearsals start in June.

Now, before you even attempt a groan, let me just say that whatever you or the critics (or even I) have said about Zambello's current Broadway work, she deserves enormous credit for assembling a first-rate team of three other accomplished women: noted opera librettist Donna Dinovelli (far left), Academy Award-winning composer Rachel Portman (middle) and Tony-winning writer Rachel Sheinkin (right) of 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee fame. Expect Sheinkin to inject this Little House with plenty of humor, most likely through the comic foil identified by Zambello: Nellie Oleson.

While even Zambello notes that it is "a rare thing for a musical" to truly enjoy the artistic vision of so many female collaborators, it certainly seems like a natural to me that this fundamentally feminine story centered on Minnesotan "Manifest Destiny" shouldn't come alive any other way. Expect this to be focused more on Ingalls Wilder's series of nine books rather than on the ten year run of the NBC television series.

During the half hour preview, three songs from the musical were performed, including "I'll Be Your Eyes," "I'm Old Enough," and "Dance in the Wind." While it's rather difficult to judge any of the tunes without the appropriate context, the third certainly soared the highest as a lovely duet between the actors portraying Laura and her fiancé Almanzo.

Single tickets for Little House On The Prairie - The Musical go on sale Friday, June 27 and will be priced from $29 to $75. And imagine this, the musical will be performing straight through the Republican National Convention being held in St. Paul. Guess for the GOP, it can't get any more wholesome that this.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 05 March, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

Thanks for the excellent, detailed report! You answered a lot of questions I had about the production. I'm looking forward to seeing this show with my two very wholesome friends!

At 05 March, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

BTW, did they mention anything about possibly taking "Little House" to Broadway?

At 05 March, 2008, Blogger SarahB said...

Oh Half-pint.

At 05 March, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, No mention was made whatsoever of whether this would go anywhere else. But with the caliber of the team behind it, including for aspects of the production related to set, costume, lighting, etc., I would have to believe that either Broadway or a tour would be in their sights.

At 11 March, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No offense to you, Steve, but the caliber of Zambello's musical theatre work is not Broadway worthy in my opinion.

At 11 March, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Anonymous, No offense taken.

Of course, since she took such a beating with her direction of The Little Mermaid, it's possible that this is the reason why Little House is blossoming so far away from the din of Broadway's lights.


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