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!