The new musical Little House on the Prairie begins previews tonight at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Because of the high demand for tickets, the Guthrie announced that the show has been extended by two weeks, to Oct. 19.
Here's an interview by Dominic Papatola from the St. Paul Pioneer Press with Kara Lindsay, who will play the teenage Laura. Lindsay says she didn't read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books as a girl - her tastes ran to scary stories - but caught up with them before beginning rehearsals.
"I love their whole concept of family,'' she said. "It's so different now. We all have our own little lives — even little kids have soccer practice; they already have schedules. Back then, each person was really important; each person had to do something for the family."
When asked whether she saw any similarities between Laura as a girl and her own childhood, Lindsay said: "When I was 12, I was a tomboy with a unibrow and hairy legs and braces, and I played soccer and basketball. I can really relate to Laura when she goes to that first day of school and she does not fit in but doesn't realize it because she's so far into her own world. So, I'm trying to home in on the little Kara Lindsay that I was."
Little House on the Prairie is 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.
Here's an interview with Sheinkin in which she talks about the challenges of working on the musical. She says that a decision was made to focus on Laura's teenage years in the 1870s and 1880s, living in a prairie community in DeSmet, S.D., to make the story about "personal change and societal change — that's our history. It's not necessarily all to the good — that's not the point of the change."
Sheinkin describes the story as about "a girl who wants to run wild, growing up with her family in a land that also wants in some ways to remain wild. It's about the domestication of a girl alongside the domestication of the prairie, and the ways in which she finds her spirit within that land."
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. Other cast members include Steven Blanchard as Pa; Jenn Gambatese as Mary, Sara Jean Ford as Nellie, and Kevin Massey as Almanzo Wilder.
Tickets for Little House on the Prairie are priced from $29 to $75, and are available by calling (612) 377-2224 or (877) 44-STAGE or by visiting the Guthrie Web site.
Update 7-28: New York Times reporter Patrick Healey made his way to Minneapolis for a story about Little House on the Prairie. The article also has two pictures from the production.
Related blog posts about Little House on the Prairie:
Little House on Broadway?
Little House on the Internet
Little House casting
A Little sneak preview
Little House, big plans
The Wild(er) West