Sunday, April 18, 2010

Little House on the Prairie -- The Musical

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

Last week, my good friend and CP, Cathy and I went to see a performance of Little House on the Prairie -- The Musical. This Broadway touring company of the show featured Melissa Gilbert (the woman who built an entire career on Laura Ingalls Wilder's characters) as Caroline "Ma" Ingalls. I'm sorry to say, Ms Gilbert is not much of a singer, but the actor who portrayed Charles "Pa" Ingalls more than made up for it, and the actress who played Laura was excellent also.

However, this was not one of those musicals where you leave humming and tapping your toes like one of the great Lerner and Loewe classics (think My Fair Lady or Camelot... you're humming now, aren't you?!?!). Nor was it one of the lavish productions with the awe-inspiring music like Phantom of the Opera. But it was still a lot of fun, and there was one cute tune sung by Nellie Oleson about how having an enemy keeps a gleam in your eye that was Aunty's particular favorite.

This Little House... owes less to the long running TV show and sticks closer to the original series of books. Granted, it does take scenes from various places and time periods in the books and compacts them into one drastically shortened storyline, but that was what I found so appealing. Watching the familiar story of the Ingalls family unfold was like visiting old and dear friends.

When I was in fourth grade (sometime back in the Dark Ages!), our teacher read Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie aloud to our class. Every girl in class (and a few of the boys too, though they'd never admit it) ran out and read every other book in the series. There was a long waiting list at the school library, and my name featured prominently.

I think Little House... was the first book I ever read in which I became emotionally invested in the characters. I was right there with Laura and Mary and their family and friends. They were like my own family and friends! And I never forgot those stories.

I was never that fond of the Little House... TV series, because those actors and the characters they portrayed never really felt like the Ingalls as I knew and loved them from the books. Besides, Michael Landon will be forever imprinted in my brain as Little Joe Cartwright, but that's a story for another blog...

Watching Little House...The Musical was very enjoyable, like I said almost a homecoming of sorts. I would have never thought to turn these stories into one comprehensive play set to music, but the writers and lyricists did a marvelous job. If you get a chance to see a production, I recommend you GO!

So what was the first story to which you became emotionally attached? Do you think it would make a good stage play or musical?

What other books do you suggest being adapted for the stage?
Claiming the Courtesan or Dark and Deadly as musicals?!?! Hey, stranger things have happened! Look at Kiss of the Spider Woman!


Helen said...

Is he coming to my place

Have Fun

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...


The GR is back DownUnder with you. HIDE the TimTams!


Helen said...

Well my household has increased by 4 this weekend Joel, Jodie, Jayden and Hayley have moved in with us until they find a new place to rent so the GR is going to have lots of company and is going to be kept busy alas no Tim Tams because hyping the kids up is not a good idea LOL.

I never read the Little House on The Prairie books I only watched the TV show and enjoyed it very much. I am so glad you loved seeing the musical it has been a long time since I have been to the theartre to see a mucical I think it was The Rocky Horror Picture Show (me in the dark ages LOL). My favourite books that I remember as a child were Enid Blyton's Secret Seven and Famous Five and I am not sure whether they would be a good musical. When I was in high school we read Daddy Long Legs which was a great book and even though I have not seen it I think that was made into a musical.

One of my favourite musicals is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and I have read a western historical series about seven brides who married (I am sure seven brothers correct me if I am wrong it has been a long time since I read these books) written by Leigh Greenwood and I loved these books. As for other books that I think should be made into musicals I might have to think on this one there would be lots of loud music with Dark and Deadly and I would guess a lot of classical with CTC

Have Fun

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oh my, Helen, you DO have a housefull!

7 Brides for 7 Brothers is one of my favorite musicals to watch live because of all the GREAT dancing. And yes, there was a musical called Daddy Long Legs and I believe Leslie Caron (who also starred in Gigi) was in the film, though I don't think I ever saw it.

I'd be VERY intrigued to see how they staged all the BOOM in Jeanne's Dark and Deadly. But like I said, I went to see Kiss of the Spider Woman because I could not imagine a musical about two guys in a South American prison. I LOVED the musical, btw. ;-)

The more I think about it, I'll bet they could adapt The Wild Sight as a stage play... maybe even a musical!


Renee said...

Oh, I loved Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. South Pacific is another favorite, and of course I was like in 3rd grade when Grease came out in the theaters. It was my first musical (even though it was at the movies) and it hooked me.

The first book I remember being invested in was Frog & Toad :) Okay, it was The Outsiders.

PinkPeony said...

...when you see a gent paying all kinds of rent for flat that would flatten the Taj Mahal...thanks, AC, now I can't get that song out of my head! I love musicals..especially the old ones like others have mentioned..South Pacific (Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi??), Seven Brides...I've seen Rocky Horror six or seven times. I've read every Little House book several times. I loved the books but couldn't get into the show. I think CTC would make a terrific dark opera...and Homicide in Hardcover could be made into a fun musical. I was a big Beverly Cleary fan. The Luckiest Girl was the first "relationship" book I'd read. I wanted to be Shelly Latham from Oregon and own a pink raincoat. Congrats on the GR Helen!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

"...gonna wash that man right outta my hair..." See what you did, Renee?!?! And I REFUSE to reveal what "grade" I was in when Grease first came out, but I will say John Travolta and I are very close to the same age... AHEM!

Loved the movie version of The Outsiders, too!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oh Pink, I read The Luckiest Girl too! I think I was in 5th or 6th grade. Weren't Beverly Cleary's books just GREAT?!?!

And I AGREE, Homicide in Hardcover would make a GREAT musical! ;-)


MsHellion said...

ARE YOU JOKING? Holy Cowdogs, they made a musical of Little House? (They really will make a musical of anything, won't they?) I will have to see it if it ever comes to my neck of the woods. Too funny.

Little House was probably the first series I ever became emotionally invested in. So much so that my 5th grade picture has me in a blue calico "little house" dress that I begged my parents to buy. I couldn't have looked more prairie girl if I tried...or more of a geek, but whatever. I loved that story.

Laura was a favorite character of mine because I loved how not-perfect she was. She could feel petty and mean (esp compared to her perfect sister Mary) and she loved to be wild and rebellious. I loved her. I wanted to be just like her.

Where the Red Fern Grows & Bridge to Terabithia were both read to us in school; and to this day, I can't read WTRFG all the way through. I can read up to the cougar fight--and I'm done. I put the book away. I haven't been able to read BTT ever again either. (This is probably why I prefer my books with happy endings.)

I remember reading a book called Say Goodnight Gracie--about a girl who deals with the death of her best friend (a boy)--and I always list it as one of my favorite childhood books.

I of course love the Harry Potter books but I was not a kid when I started that series. *LOL*

MsHellion said...

Oh, we get to talk about our favorite musicals too?

I *LOVED* 7 Brides for 7 Brothers; and South Pacific (sad ending!). Of course, I adore The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. Kiss Me Kate. Show Boat (Ava Gardner makes me want to bawl!). On the Town and Anchors Aweigh (Gene Kelly as a sailor is wonderful). Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Brigadoon.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I'd NEVER joke about anything so serious as Laura Ingalls! I think me and all my friends loved how she was so less-than-perfect too! I loved how she struggled with her jealousy of her sister, because *I* had a sister with long blonde curls too. ;-)

I've never read Bridge to Terabithia, but I LOVED the movie. Oh, and I bawled buckets of tears over Where The Red Fern Grows too. The embarrassing part... I was about 27 at the time. :-P

Still humming Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Helen.

Hi Aunty Cindy,
I love a good murder mystery and would love to see Jeanne's books turned into plays. "The King and I" is my favorite musical.

Laurie said...

Camelot is my favorite musical. I also like Rent,Sound of Music, West Side Story, Mama Mia and of course Phantom of the Opera.

Books I enjoyed by EB White: Louis The Trumpeter Swan, Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little.

Christie Kelley said...

AC, like you I was struck by the Little House books. I loved every one of them. But I can't quite see it as a musical. Sounds kind of interesting.

I'm actually thinking Homicide in Hardcover might make a good musical. A little mystery, a little music...

Joan said...

I never read the Little House I missed them, I'll never know! Did like the early series. Once Melissa Gilbert turned like 30 and was still wearing braids, I was over it.

Though I missed those books, I did read a lot. Some that I remember emotionally connecting with were ...

A Lantern in Her Hand. This too was set on the praire and followed a girl through her journey from Ireland out West and through her life. Finding her love, marrying, facing the dangers of the praire life, raising children. Growing old. I actually found an old copy online several years ago and bought it.

Also Red Shoes for Nancy. This was autobiographical about a mother with a little girl with CP. Her trials and tribulations and how her little girl who could not walk always wanted red shoes to wear.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning everyone!
Hope you are all having a lovely sunny day just like I'm having here in NorCal!

I'm going to the local SPCA book sale today. Lots of books and all the money goes to help animals, so a GREAT CAUSE!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Jane,
I'd love to see stage versions of Jeanne's books too. Not sure how they'd manage the pyrotechnics, but after seeing The Lion King, I know they can do some FANTASTIC things. ;-)

I LOVE The King and I too, and right now I'm humming Shall We Dance!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Laurie!
Thanx for bringing back wonderful memories of reading Charlotte's Web!
... Some Pig... I LOVED that part, and of course cried buckets when Charlotte dies. No, I wasn't 27 that time. ;-) I think I was in 5th grade.

When I was in 7th grade, our little school orchestra played the music from West Side Story, which was so much FUN! I still remember our 'guest conductor' this chubby, balding little old man (he was probably all of 40 but seemed old to us) singing along with I Feel Pretty. Those of us with wind instruments could hardly play for laughing!

NOW humming I Feel Pretty

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I agree with you Christie! Homicide in Hardcover would be a GREAT musical. I can imagine a little ditty in the first act about binding books... ;-) And ya know, with Kate's Hollywood connections, it just might happen! What a BLAST!

One of the more interesting things they did in Little House...the Musical was when they were driving a team of horses, they would fasten a looong set of reins to the floor and pull them back like the horses were on the other end. Sounds kind of lame to describe but it was surprisingly effective. The whole show was done with minimal sets so the audience really had to use their imagination, which I loved. :-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL Joanie about Melissa Gilbert being 30 and still in braids. They did carry that series a bit too far, didn't they?

A Lantern in Her Hand sounds wonderful! I wonder if my local library has a copy?

Red Shoes for Nancy sounds great too, a real heart-tugger! Thanx for sharing your choices with us.


Virginia said...

Congrats Helen on getting the rooster, have fun with him!

I never read the Little House on the Prairie books when I was growing up. I always watched them on TV and loved them! I can't remember reading a lot as a child, I didn't start doing that until I was a teenager! Can't really remember though! I am not big into musicals though!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi AC !

Never read the Little House books, but I do remember the TV series. I don't know if it's too may years, or too many books but I don't remember what the first books were that hooked me emotionally. I remember reading a lot of Hardy boys and Nancy Drew. I remember being very attached to RASCAL - the true story of a raccoon pet.

I think all of the bandita books would be fabo on stage - except The Trouble with Moonlight. Not sure a naked invisible woman would work on stage (grin). But the others have such great plots and characters, they'd be a shoe-in for Tonys.

Allison Chase said...

I love The Man Of La Mancha! To Dream The Impossible Dream makes me cry every time.

I watched Little House as a kid, but I agree they totally missed the boat when it came to portraying the characters as Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote them. I read them as a kid, then twice again as an adult to each of my daughters. I love how simple and honest those stories are.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Virginia,
You may have been a late-starter as far as reading is concerned, but you more than made up for lost time!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Donna,
I LOVED Nancy Drew too! I read a LOT of those in 5th and 6th grade.

And actually, I think a naked heroine on stage might be REALLY popular! They could put her in one of those flesh-colored body stockings with a few sequins in strategic places... I've seen those outfits on Cirque Soleil type performers. And I'll bet some clever lyricist could come up with some catchy tune about being invisible. Yup, Trouble With Moonlight would make a GREAT musical!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oh Allison!
The Impossible Dream makes me tear up too. What a great song and great musical! That particular song is usually a show stopped on cruise ship performances.

I think you've hit on a very important point about the Little House books, their simplicity and the characters' honesty. They really did harken back to less complicated times, and I think the musical did a good job of portraying that. In one particularly poignant moment, Laura tells her ma, "I thought all families were happy, not just ours."


Karyn Gerrard AKA~Drew said...

Little House...the musical? Wow, I never would have imagined that! LOL at picturing Little Joe while watching Little House, I did too!
And the few times I watched Highway to Heaven, I said, 'It's Pa Ingalls!'

If any bandits or buddies want to swing by Borders True Romance, I am guest blogging there, topic is scarred heroes.


Anna Campbell's 'Untouched' The musical...I would love it!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Drew,
Glad I'm not the only one with the Lil Joe complex! LOL!

Yes, I think Untouched would be a TERRIFIC stage play, or even a musical. I want a HUGE dog on the stage howling along with the chorus in a couple of the songs. ;-)


Louisa Cornell said...

I have two large dogs who could audition for that chorus in Untouched. The Idiot Brothers - Clyde and Zorro have lovely baritone voices. Not the brightest bulbs in the box, but sweet and VERY LARGE!

The GR and Four Little Ones !! Oh my!! Look out Helen!

I have a friend who got a Tony nomination for her performance in The Secret Garden on Broadway. I always loved that book and the musical was really great.

I have to agree that I would LOVE to See Homicide in Hardcover as a musical.

PJ said...

Add me to the list. I'd love to see Homicide in Hardcover on stage!

I've never read the Little House books. I read a lot of classics when I was a kid and I remember reading the entire collection of Nancy Drew. I wasn't the most adventuresome of kids and really, really, wanted to be like Nancy.

Hey Louisa, I'll toss in Rachel and we'll have a top-notch canine trio! She really can howl with the best of them. ;-)

PJ said...

Forgot to say that I'm a musical theater junkie. Love, love, love stage musicals! I had parts in our school musicals all four years of high school and carried that love of the stage into my adult life. Though we've been season ticket holders for the Broadway series wherever we've lived, I had never seen a production on Broadway until a couple years ago. A life-long dream was realized when I finally made it to NYC. The show was Wicked and it was fabulous!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanx for offering the Idiot brothers to perform in Untouched the Musical. I'm sure they'll steal the show! ;-)

I've only seen The Secret Garden once, but I really liked it. Can't remember any of the music, however. :-(

Another vote for Homicide in Hardcover! I think we may be onto something here...


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

OOOO PJ, I'm SOOO jealous that you got to see Wicked on Broadway!

I haven't see a production of it yet, and am DYING to. :-) I've seen Miss Saigon, Tommy, and Kiss of the Spider Woman on Broadway. They were all FANTASTIC! I saw a revival of Carousel at Lincoln Center that was also very good.

Most of the shows are see are local productions or traveling Broadway series here in town, though occasionally I will venture into San Francisco and see a show there. I saw Phantom for the first time in the grand old Geary theater and it was a never to be forgotten production!


Helen said...

I am another one that would love to see Homicide In Hardcover made into a musical.

There are some great musicals listed here today wouldn't be wonderful if we could get to see them all.

Have Fun

Kirsten said...

AC, I just loved the Little House books. I also did not like the TV show much. Michael Landon didn't seem burly, hairy, or manly enough to be Pa, somehow. Maybe just a little too pretty and clean shaven for Pa? I don't know. I did love Melissa Gilbert as Half-Pint.

Is there a musical of The Princess Bride? I just love the book, and happened to start reading it out loud to my kids this weekend. I enjoyed the movie, and can quote from it ad nauseum, but think a musical could be even better... ;-)

great blog -- now I've got to go find my LH books!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Welcome back, Helen!

I hope the GR behaved himself today and kept Hayley and Jaden entertained so that you could do some reading!

Yes, I ADORE most of the musicals everyone has been mentioning today. I heard one of our local cable channels is showing West Side Story. I'll definitely have to look for that one!

humming I Feel Pretty again ;-)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oh Kirsten, I LURVED The Princess Bride movie too! If it is not already a musical, it NEEDS to be. :-)


MsHellion said...

*LOL* I can hear one of the songs for The Princess Bride right now: "Inconceivable!"

it's unbelievable,
there's no way this can be true.
it's unperceivable!
Everyone knows I'm smarter than you!