In a reversal of Horace Greeley's 19th-century advice to "Go West," the Little on the Prairie musical may be heading to the East.
There's an interesting article in Playbill this morning about a new company, Global Broadway Productions, formed by the backers of the Little House on the Prairie musical that runs from July 26 to Oct. 19 at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. (The show had been scheduled to end on Oct. 5, but it's been extended by two weeks due to high demand for tickets.)
Apparently the company, headed by Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, plans to bring Little House on the Prairie to Broadway in the 2008-2009 season, followed by a national tour. In an interview with Variety, Sprecher pegs the initial development costs for Little House at $1.85 million and the complete capitalization at $8 million.
This news is a little surprising to me because from everything I'd read, the show was supposed to bypass Broadway and simply mount a nationwide tour. I would think there'd be some retooling involved after the Minneapolis run, so aiming for Broadway this season seems unrealistic. But as I noted earlier, the first-day sales of Little House tickets broke a box office record for the Guthrie, so maybe the producers feel it has the legs to get to New York.
Little House on the Prairie will be directed by Francesca Zambello, with music by Donna di Novelli, lyrics by Oscar-winner Rachel Portman (Emma) and a book by Rachel Sheinkin, Tony winner for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Melissa Gilbert, who starred as Laura in the Little House television series that ran from 1974 to 1983, will play Ma in the stage version. Kara Lindsay, a 2007 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, will portray a teenage Laura. Other cast members include Steven Blanchard as Pa; Jenn Gambatese as Mary, Sara Jean Ford as Nellie, and Kevin Massey as Almanzo Wilder.
Global Broadway's other projections include:
Havana, described as a "politically charged romance is set during the run-up to Castro's takeover of Cuba," with a book by Nilo Cruz, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Anna in the Tropics, and music and lyrics by Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy. The producers are looking for a Broadway debut for fall 2010.
Rebecca, an adaptation of the Daphne Du Maurier novel, which had its premiere in Vienna in 2006 and is still playing there. The musical is also playing in Tokyo, and productions are planned for Berlin and Helsinki. Global is looking at a spring 2010 Broadway opening.