Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas Plays 2019

Photo in Wilder Farmhouse – Courtesy of Connie Jenkins

 

 

I’m late this year listing the Laura Christmas productions this year, but I wanted to get a record of them up anyway. Look for next year’s list and be sure to tell your local theaters that these plays are available.

Christmas Plays and Laura – An Annual Tradition

It’s time to get in the mood for the holidays and for many families attending a Laura Ingalls Wilder play. There are four titles that are currently running on the circuit.

  • A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas by Laurie Brooks
  • A Little House Christmas by James DeVita
  • Melodies and Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • A Little House Christmas at Plum Creek by Lisa Cordes

I’ve only found productions of the first two works this year, but I’ve included information for all four in case you want to encourage a local theater group to put one on for next year. Remind them there are only SO many versions of A Christmas Carol they can do and one of these might make a fun change.

I’ll also mention that although it really doesn’t have much of a Christmas connection Little House on the Prairie: The Musical is also available for production. Spread the word!

Little House on the Prairie: The Musical

This play was originally opened at the Guthrie and had an international tour. Then lay  fallow for about 10 years before rights were released for purchase for local production groups. I’ll try to keep track of productions if you find out about one, please let me know.

Rochester, MN

December 6-7, 13-14, 2019

Basic Information:
https://www.facebook.com/events/2778904678808215/?event_time_id=2778904682141548

Peace United Church of Christ
Rochester, MN

A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas by Laurie Brooks

If you want your local group to try it next year, check out the script and production rights. Learn the basics. Check out the author’s page.

Here’s a clip from a production in 2012.

Dodge City, KS
Dec. 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 2019
Depot Theater Company (there are 2 theaters, this is the office)
201 E Wyatt Earp Blvd
Dodge City, KS 67801
620-225-1001

 

“A Little House Christmas” by James Devita

Check with the author for production rightsLearn more about him.

Shots from a production.

Grand Island, NE

December 11-15, 2019

Basic Information:
http://www.githeater.org

Grand Island Little Theatre
3180 W US Hwy 34
Grand Island, NE 68801
308-382-2586

Greenfield, SC

December 13 – 15, 20 – 22, 2019

Basic Information:
https://www.theabbevilleoperahouse.com

The Abbeville Opera House
100 Court Square
Abbeville, SC 29620

“Melodies and Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder”

Check out this clip from a 2009 production. No current productions found this year. Find out more if you want to put it on.

“A Little House Christmas at Plum Creek”

No current productions this year.

Here’s a story about its release.

This was the second year for a TV show cast reunion event. They are looking at making it an anuual event.

Colony Theater – Burbank, CA

“Little Christmas on the Prairie”

December 13-14, 2019

COLONY THEATER In Burbank, CA

Alison Arngrim
Rachel Lindsay Greenbush
Dan McBride
Wendi Lou Lee
Charlotte Randall Yerke

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at her photos, and find her on Facebook ,  Twitter ,  LinkedIn ,   SlideShare,   and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Musical Now Has License Rights Available for Purchase

Little House on the Prairie the Musical T-Shirt
Little House on the Prairie the Musical T-Shirt

It All Began at the Guthrie

In 2007 the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota announced they would be debuting a new musical based on the “Little House” books. Although they said their source material was the books, not the NBC series, they definitely connected with the series through the casting of Melissa Gilbert as Ma and through their characterization of Nellie which matches the TV Nellie more than the books.

A Big Success

The show proved a big success with the original booking being extended by weeks for an audience ranging from normal theater people to Laura fans making the trip (buses went from the homesite towns, which is how I went). After it closed at the Guthrie in Fall 2008 it was announced the production would go on a national (actually international – they had one booking in Canada) tour. In a national tour a production travels from city to city as theaters book it with the same cast, etc. traveling with the show. Gilbert remained in the Ma role for this further production as did some of the other actors, others in the cast were replaced either due to scheduling difficulties or because they weren’t willing to travel that long for the show. I was particularly saddened by the loss of Carrie who was very good in the Guthrie production.

(Inter)National Tour

Announcements of bookings dribbled out during 2009 and then in October 2009 they were off! The play had been slightly retooled – which is normal – and traveled all around the country. When they played Sioux Falls (where I saw it), the cast even made a group trip up to DeSmet to see where some of the story really took place. The roadshow closed in early summer 2010. A couple of months later the gift shop that traveled with the show sold out excess branded merchandise. The official website slipped into an archived state without access to what had previously been posted.

Find out my details of this and a link to the archived version of the website on my history of the musical post.

What Happens Next?

Well, the hope of every such musical is to make it to Broadway and maybe even on to London. It’s sometimes a broken road there. Usually after a national tour one of three things happens:

  1. It goes straight to Broadway to try its luck there!
  2. It gets polished and retooled and tries another tour.
  3. Rights are offered for purchase for local productions.

So the show ended and what happened was…. nothing! At least in public. I assume there was at least some hope that it was going to have a chance at Broadway… or at least another shot at a tour. They don’t release rights for local productions until all hope for a big show is gone – at least for the immediate future.

Through 2013 the site remained operating in its archived state, then as a background screen, but preserving ownership through the first part of 2016 and I assume some hope remained. However, someone behind the scenes has now officially given up. The URL of the show is now an ad for a Japanese (in Japanese) diet supplement.

The Little House on the Prairie the Musical is now available for licensing!

 

The Good News

The positive part of this is that starting in Fall 2019 local groups will be able to put on productions of the show. Hopefully it will become popular and you’ll get to see a local production near you!

If you’re looking for buying, rights, scripts, etc. here you goThat’s what you’re going to want to pass on to your local theater groups, high schools, etc. and ask them to put on the show! They also have a digital preview version of the script.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas Plays 2018

Photo in Wilder Farmhouse – Courtesy of Connie Jenkins

Christmas Plays and Laura – An Annual Tradition

It’s time to get in the mood for the holidays and for many families attending a Laura Ingalls Wilder play. There are four titles that are currently running on the circuit.

  • A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas by Laurie Brooks
  • A Little House Christmas by James DeVita
  • Melodies and Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • A Little House Christmas at Plum Creek by Lisa Cordes

I’ve only found productions of the first two works this year, but I’ve included information for all four in case you want to encourage a local theater group to put one on for next year. Remind them there are only SO many versions of A Christmas Carol they can do and one of these might make a fun change.

A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas by Laurie Brooks

If you want your local group to try it next year, check out the script and production rights. Learn the basics. Check out the author’s page.

Here’s a clip from a production in 2012.

Columbia, TN

Nov. 16-17, 2018

Basic Information:
https://www.buildingblockarts.com/upcoming-events/xp36zzdffrx9mg4skkkc37tkyn8f8b

Building Block School for the Arts
Location: 700 Woodland Street
Columbia, TN 38401
E-mail: buildingblockarts@gmail.com

Phone: (931) 442-5007

Greenwood, SC

Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 7, 8, 9, 14 and 15, 2018

Basic Information:
https://www.theabbevilleoperahouse.com/Show/Details/54

Abbeville Opera House
Location: 100 Court Square Abbeville, SC 29620
Email: operahouse@wctel.net
Phone: (864) 366-2157

“A Little House Christmas”

Check with the author for production rightsLearn more about him.

Shots from a production.

Eau Claire, WI

Dec. 7-8, 14-16, 2018

Basic Information:
https://ecct.org/upcoming-shows/a-little-house-christmas
ECCT

Location: 1814 Oxford Avenue, Eau Claire, WI, 54701,

E-mail: info@ecct.org
Phone: (715) 839-8877

Lincoln, NE

December 7-9, 2018

Basic Information:
https://www.lincoln.org/play/event/144961-a-little-house-christmas

Lincoln Community Playhouse
Location: 2500 S 56th Street
Ticket Price: TBA
Time: TBA
Phone: (402) 489-7529

“Melodies and Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder”

Check out this clip from a 2009 production. No current productions found this year. Find out more if you want to put it on.

“A Little House Christmas at Plum Creek”

No current productions this year.

Here’s a story about it’s release.

UPDATED November 12 2018: Of course as soon as I published it I got a lead on another show. This one isn’t for Christmas, but I wanted to add it. Thanks to Judy Green for sharing about it.

“Patchwork – the Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder”

I hadn’t heard about this show before, but it looks like it was around since at least 2010, is aimed at an elementary school audience, and doesn’t seem to have had many performances – at least that hit the internet. It isn’t a Christmas show, but since there is a production coming in February I’m including it.

Toledo, OH

February 17, 2019

Basic Information:
https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/6606386/patchworkthe-little-house-life-of-laura-ingalls-wilder-toledo-valentine-theatre

Valentine Theatre
Location: 410 Adams St.
Toledo, OH 43604
E-mail: jjex@valentinetheatre.com (executive director)
Phone: (419) 242-3490

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Walnut Grove Pageant Works Towards Recovery

Footbridge at Dugout Site Surrounded by Flood Water
Footbridge at Dugout Site Surrounded by Flood Water

TO: All Media Outlets [ For Immediate Release]
FR: William Richards (507-828-6616) Media
DA: July 5, 2018
RE: Wilder Pageant Rebuilding after Big Flood on the Prairie

On July 3rd, nine inches of rain and over three feet of churning Plum Creek swept parts of the set and staging away at the Wilder Pageant site forcing cancellation of this weekends performances. The water is receding leaving mud and holes. Pageant cast and crew have been quick to repair and restore road access and electrical and other services to allow for cleaning and repair.

The Wilder Pageant production, “Fragments of A Dream” about the early life of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Walnut Grove, will add Thursday performances to the next two weeks schedules to provide opportunity for people who were unable to see shows this weekend. The Family Festival will be on for the next two Saturdays and Pageant suppers will be offered on all pageant dates.

Plum Creek Flood Waters Receding
Plum Creek Flood Waters Receding

Volunteers have been cleaning, washing, rebuilding and checking out all sound and light systems to get the show back on track for the next six performances. Roads in the area have been flooded so it is best to check on which roads to use to get to Walnut Grove and the pageant site. The Wilder Museum is in full operation but the Laura Ingalls Wilder Dugout site is not available due to significant water damage to the road. Contact either the Wilder Pageant (888-859-3102) or Wilder Museum (888-528-7298) in Walnut Grove or access the web site at  http://walnutgrove.org/index.html

Costumes in Storage Trailor
Costumes in Storage Trailer

From Erin Richards, director of the Wilder Pageant: “The waters have receded and the land is drying up. It is now time for clean-up. The pageant committee has set clean up times as follows: Friday, 5:00-9:00 p.m; Saturday, 1:00-5:00 p.m.; and Monday, 5:00-9:00 p.m. We will be setting chairs at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. It is still muddy and very dirty out there so closed toe shoes or boots are a must, boots are best. We have gloves available for your use. Gravel has been put down but be careful where you park. Masks are also recommended as some areas are very ‘fragrant’ with mold and mildew. If you bring young children, you need to watch them at all times as we don’t know what’s been left over from the flood such as objects or contamination. Thanks for all continued support! You are all wonderful.”

If you are in the area and can help—please do!

http://walnutgrove.org/index.html

Mansfield Pageant Dates 2017

Mansfield Pageant
Mansfield Pageant

What Is It?

You’ve probably heard of the Laura Ingalls Wilder pageants in DeSmet, South Dakota, and Walnut Grove, Minnesota, but do you know there is a pageant in Mansfield, Missouri? This pageant is put on by the Ozark Mountain Players and is called Laura’s Memories.

What’s Different from the Other Pageants?

One major difference is that this pageant is a musical. Frankly I like the music better than the Little House on the Prairie the Musical that got a national tour. I’ve only seen it once in person (although I’ve also seen in on DVD), but I can still sing part of a couple of the songs. ♫♪”Farmer boy, Farmer boy…” ♪♫

Unlike the other two pageants it seeks to tell Laura’s entire life story rather than just a part of it or to dramatize one of the books. It plays off the only known recording of Laura’s voice using that as a set up as Laura shares memories from her life. A unique thing is that they rotate roles as time progresses so no one person has to learn an excessive amount of dialogue, which can be a little difficult to follow until you figure it out.  Important to the audience it also features the most professional theater stage and the best back support for the seats.

Dates

Uniquely for the pageants it splits its dates every year with some during the summer and the rest in September as part of the lead up to Wilder Days. They were very late getting the dates out this year, so I’m taking this special post to share them. I’ve updated my events page with these and a couple of other things lately, so take a look.

  • July 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 2017
  • Sept 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 2017
  • Wilder Days: September 15,16, & 17, 2017

I can honestly highly recommend this pageant. So if you’re looking for a last minute Laura trip. Take a look!

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,  LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas Plays 2016

It’s time to get in the mood for the holidays and for many families attending a Laura Ingalls Wilder play. There are three titles that are currently running on the circuit.

  • A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas by Laurie Brooks
  • A Little House Christmas by James DeVita
  • Melodies and Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Hoover 2010 Me and Bonnet Tree

There are only so many ways to do A Christmas Carol, let your local community or small professional theater that you’d like to see them do one of these next year! And if I’ve missed one in your neck of the woods let me know so I can add it.

Christmas Plays and Laura – An Annual Tradition

There are a few events going on, including Christmas shows, I’m listing the entire season’s worth below so you can make plans if one is in your regional area:

“A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas”

If you want your local group to try it next year, check out the script and production rights. Learn the basics.

Check out a clip from a production in 2012.

Milwaukee, WI – Acacia Theatre Company’s “A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas.” Tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for seniors, full-time students and full-time clergy.
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
http://www.acaciatheatre.com/show/a-laura-ingalls-wilder-christmas
November 11 through November 20, 2016
Concordia University, Todd Wehr Auditorium, 12800 North Lake Shore Drive, Mequon, WI
Review

Catch an interview about it. Real life family plays the Ingalls Family.

St. Croix Falls, WI – From the Festival Theatre’s professional acting troupe.  Read a little more about the show.
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
https://festivaltheatre.secure.force.com/ticket#details_a0SF0000005YCTKMA4
November 26-December 24, 2016
Franklin Square Black Box, 125 N. Washington Street, St. Croix Falls, WI, 54024

Prattville, AL – Presented by Way Off Broadway Theater.
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
http://www.prattvilleal.gov/departments/ticket-information.html
Thursdays through Sundays, between December 8 -December 18, 2016.
Cultural Arts Center, 203 4th St, Prattville AL 36067

Walhalla, SC – Presented by Walhalla Civic Auditorium.
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
http://www.walhallacivic.com/events.html#p7AP3c1_4
December 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 & 18, 2016
Walhalla Civic Auditorium, 101 E.N. Broad Street, Walhalla, SC 29691

“A Little House Christmas”

Shots from a production.

Sierra Madre, CA – Adapted by James DeVita.
http://sierramadreplayhouse.org/smp-presents-little-house-christmas-november-18-december-23/
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
Purchase tickets
November 25-27, December 2-4, 9-11, 15-18, and 21-23, 2016
Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre, CA 91024

Bozeman, MT – Presented by the Verge Theater
http://vergetheater.com/shows/family-stage
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
Purchase Tickets
Saturdays Nov. 26th-Dec. 17th, 2016
Verge Theater, 2304 N 7th Ave C1, Bozeman, MT 59715

Menomonie, WI – Presented by the Menomonie Theater Guild
http://volumeone.org/events/2016/12/02/216111_menomonie_theater_guild_presents_a_little_house
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
Purchase Tickets
December 2-4 and 9-11, 2016
Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts205 Main St. E, Menomonie, WI 54751

“A Little House Christmas at Plum Creek”

Grand Rapids, MI – Adapted for the Stage by Lisa Cordes.
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
http://www.experiencegr.com/event/little-house-christmas-at-plum-creek/45855/
November 17, 2016 – December 10, 2016
Recurring weekly on Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Master Arts Theatre, 75  77th St SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49548

“Melodies and Laura Ingalls Wilder”

Check out this clip from a 2009 production.

Auburn, CA – From a non-profit theater group. Catch a short news story.

Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
http://takenotetroupe.org/musicals
Nov 11th & 18th – 7:30 p.m. Nov 12th & 19th – 4:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center, 985 Lincoln Way, Auburn, CA 95603

 

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

August 2016 Laura Ingalls Wilder Events

August is a quieter month than July, but there are still plenty of events to choose from.

Times 2016

Keystone SD – Longtime Home of Carrie Ingalls Swanzey

Keystone Area Historical Association always hosts an event on August 3rd, Carrie’s actual birthday no matter what day of the week it falls on.

Old World Wisconsin – Eagle WI

World of Little House – July 16 – August 7, 2016 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/calendar/event/4466/the-world-of-little-house

Genesee Country Village and Museum – Mumford, NY

Laura Ingalls Wilder Days  August 6-7, 2016 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Vinton IA

Mary Ingalls Society Pageant – August 5, 6, and 7 2016. The 7th will be a Sunday Maintee.

Malone/Burke NY

Find more on events.

Cultural Festival-Irish Fenian Festival – Saturday, August 27, 2016, 10 am-4 pm

  • Celebrating the Irish heritage of the area in the mid-19th century with food, music, demonstrations, and more, Fenian Raid reenactments. More details to follow.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

T-Shirt of the Month April 2016

Clothes are one of those things that I once kept as a firm line not to cross as part of my efforts to restrict my Laura collection to a reasonable size. That totally failed when I discovered how great it is to have a Laura t-shirt on when traveling. It really makes it feel like your trip has already started once you get in your car.

Little House on the Prairie the Musical
Little House on the Prairie the Musical

Black t-shirts often have gorgeous designs, but have the drawback of being hot in the heat of the noonday sun. This is a great example of that. In conjunction with Little House on the Prairie: The Musical, they had two gift shops at the Guthrie and then a traveling giftshop that traveled with the roadshow. I got it and a bunch of other stuff including a great book about the set design and some “I ♥ Almanzo” pins.

This full cover design is one of the prettiest I have even if it isn’t the most practical for a Midwestern summer. The design is their logo with the words in a mock cross-stitch type pattern.  Sadly as far as I can tell after that giftshop held a closeout sale a couple of months after the roadshow ended that was that, so you’d have to find it on Ebay or elsewhere online if you want one.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,  LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

25th Anniversary of Laura’s Memories

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Ozark Mountain Players production of Laura’s Memories. Their Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant differs in quite a few ways from the other pageants. Mansfield Pageant

  • While they hold auditions for the pageant each year it’s put on by a repertory company that sometimes does other shows and didn’t actually begin with the pageant.
  • It’s a musical. Not only is it a musical, it’s a great musical. One that I can still sing snatches of songs from even though it’s been at least 10 years since I attended.
  • Said great music is available as a soundtrack through the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield. Find it in their online store.
  • Rather than have people memorize so much, the cast switches roles as the play progresses.
  • They have the BEST seats of any pageant. Honestly the older I get the more I appreciate back support.
  • Unlike De Smet, Walnut Grove, and Vinton they show Laura’s entire life instead of concentrating on a certain portion of it.
  • They have a longer and more spread out run with some dates in mid-summer and another block this fall with far more performances than any of the others.

In short it’s definitely earned its 25 year run and I really think you should go.

Earlier I did posts on pageant travel advice with details on how to attend Laura’s Memories and a link to a Ozark Public Television program on it, complete with notes to help you find different parts.

I hope you’ll make an effort to try to go see the pageant next year. I’m going to give up on Wilder Days this next year and see if I can make it for one of the earlier performances.

Learn more about Laura’s Memories and find links to other articles/videos.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

History of Little House on the Prairie the Musical

One of the top ten posts is one simply called Musical Launched. I’m figuring that a lot of people hit that not looking for the specific musical I’m talking about, but as it’s entirely talking about news then current I wasn’t sure what I could even do to update it, so I decided to write a completely new post about the history of the musical as I know it instead and I’ll add a link on the Top 10 post.

Little House on the Prairie the Musical T-Shirt
Little House on the Prairie the Musical T-Shirt

Failed Attempt

The idea of Little House musical was not a new one. Laura’s Memories (aka the Mansfield pageant) has been a musical from the very beginning (and with a lot more have to sing along numbers than the show that came out of the Guthrie in my opinion). In addition the New York Times reported in its June 9, 1989 issue that musical based on the “Little House” books called Prairie would be heading to Broadway the following year. (It didn’t, but apparently did get as far as a complete draft of the book and a slate of musical numbers).

Started at the Guthrie

I first posted about this new musical the Guthrie was putting together when I saw the press release. My first post about it was dated November 16, 2007. The Guthrie in Minneapolis, Minnesota,  is considered a regional theater, but is an important one nationally. Many national level actors and actors come to do a run here. They put together this production and did an initial run. It was a big hit. It wasn’t in their largest theater (they have multiple theater spaces in one big building), but it was the medium size one and the initial run was extended by several weeks due to strong ticket sales.

Check out this post for a taste of what it was like to attend a show at the Guthrie:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2008/10/01/guthrie-logistic-tips/

Check out the photos from Playbill from the Guthrie production:
http://www.playbill.com/news/article/print/119925.html

Read my review here:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2008/10/08/little-house-the-musical/

I had also written a more formal review that I debated whether needed published too or not. I finally decided to go ahead and post it some time later when I found it languishing in my drafts after my road show experience.
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/guthrie-version-review/

Starring Melissa Gilbert

The biggest news item was when it was announced that Melissa Gilbert had agreed to join the production as Ma. Gilbert has spent a lot of time distancing herself from the Laura role, her new adult persona most strongly symbolized by her term as president of SAG, the actor union. However, she agreed to return to the “franchise” this time taking on the role of Ma. Part of this was the challenge of the role, Gilbert hadn’t ever done musical theater. The part was adjusted for her vocal range and dance ability, but you can’t say she didn’t give it her all, shortly after the national tour completed she had to have serious back surgery because her back was broken by her on stage exertions.

Early publicity about Gilbert joining the show:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2008/06/02/melissa-gilbert-to-play-ma

Gilbert quoted “Every girl has a Laura in them”:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/a-little-laura-in-all-of-us/

Revamp

The show didn’t go directly into the road show. There was a gap of months before we found out there was even going to be one which is part of what I was reporting on in the post that was in the top 10. Slowly towns were added from Connecticut to Canada with many spots in between including the one I saw it at in Sioux Falls. Changes were made and some of the cast members, who either were unwilling to travel with a road production or had other commitments, were swapped out.

This NPR news story falls after the Guthrie run finished, but before the road show. It also includes snippets of various songs from the show.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93644080

Cast Visits Homesites

Since the initial production was so close to the Laura homesites in the Twin Cities, it inspired several cast members to make the trip. Most of the major cast made a trip separately or in small groups to visit the northern homesites. Actors said that it helped them understand the material to get a feel for the land. Finally during the road show the entire cast was brought up to De Smet.

The entire cast was bused up to De Smet to have a press conference at the Ingalls Homestead in June 2010. Find links to it in this post – the bottom one has video:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/press-conference-in-de-smet/

Musical Hits the Road

They also tightened up the production which often happens over the course of the production. They really didn’t address any of the problems I pointed out in my review, but it was a better show when I saw it in Sioux Falls. The show had ended in Fall 2008, reports of the national tour being a go and slowly the places it would stop came through February 2009, and the national tour started October 2009 and ran through early summer 2010.

Dates slowly trickled in. As I reported in this post, they had just made a booking for Canada making the road show an international one. The article link still worked from February 2009:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2009/02/22/musical-goes-international/

Report on attending the road show version in Sioux Falls, South Dakota:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/on-the-way-to-the-roadshow/

Sell Out of Merchandise

A couple of months after the final booking, no more news came and then there was a sale to clean out the merchandise. Apparently the company that had traveled around with them selling souvenirs believed it was over. That was the final word we’ve heard.

Next Step

So my family has a streak of theater in it, in fact my father actually teaches theater lighting, so while I can’t exactly follow the theater scene from Iowa as well as I could from New York or even Chicago, I do follow it. A show at this point, with a fairly successful one year run under its belt, normally has one of three things happen next. Will it:

  • Re-launch road show for a further run?
  • Move to Broadway?
  • Release scripts for purchase for local productions?

But none of these things has actually happened. The fact that they haven’t released the scripts yet, which could be making them money, sounds like they are hoping some sort of re-launch of either the road show or a Broadway or off-Broadway production. But I haven’t heard a further peep.

Their website frontpage is still up, but it won’t let you in. It does play a medley of the songs:
http://www.littlehousethemusical.com

You can get to the archived version of the website here. It includes interviews with some of the people involved, their blog, etc.

Sarah S. Uthoff is main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.