The musical is based on the children’s “Little House” book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The production is set “in and around” the Dakota Territory during the early 1880s. The musical begins with the family’s adventures on the prairie with Charles (Steve Blanchard) establishing a homestead. From a historical stand point, it was dangerous in that time to go on your own like he did and get your land and when the comments from the characters when Charles returns about “getting into fights” was mentioned I really enjoyed seeing that. It lets the viewer get an idea of real life in that era in history.
The production covered a lot of important details in Laura’s life. For starters, one of my favorite scenes in the production was Act I when Laura (Kara Lindsay) meets Nellie (Kate Loprest) for the first time. Viewers who are fans of the original NBC television series will be in for a treat. When Kate Loprest calls Laura and her sisters “country girls” you can almost close your eyes and picture Alison Arngrim’s voice as Nellie. The scene then follows as the Ingalls girls and Nellie attend school with Miss Wilder. This particular scene had one of the best musical numbers!
The “I Can Rock” song was hilarious! The scene starts with Carrie (Carly Rose Sonenclar) being nervous in class, so she is rocking her chair which is causing disturbance. Miss Wilder sends Carrie up front of the class, but is soon replaced by Laura. Laura takes the chair up front and the scene is performed brilliantly by the cast in the classroom as they jump back and forth into the rocking chair performing “I Can Rock” while Miss Wilder has her back turned.
Another scene I enjoyed was around the end of Act I when Mary goes blind. During the first hour you begin to fall in love with the characters and enjoy the adventures of the family, but
when Mary went blind the performance by Alessa Neeck was phenomenal. As an audience guest, you could almost feel the emotion Mary was going through when becoming blind and the comments about “being in the dark all the time” was touching. The most touching of it all was the song “I’ll Be Your Eyes” amazing performance by Kara Lindsay.
After Mary goes blind it is time for Laura to help pay for Mary to attend blind school. Laura takes on the job as a school teacher for Mr. Brewster (Christian Whelan). Laura stays at
the homestead of Mr. Brewster where she encounters his very insensitive wife, Mrs. Brewster (Meredith Inglesby). Again, the writers did it historically correct based on the books when writing for this character! Meredith Inglesby performance as Mrs. Brewster will make you feel like you are watching this character come to life right out of the books! I was in complete awe. During Laura’s stay with the Brewster’s she teaches at a school with children who all
want to learn, well except for one, Clarence Brewster (Brian Muller). Clarence is older than Laura and he lets her know that. The chemistry between Brian and Kara was really great and you can see in the later part of Act II how much of a mentor Laura became to him and how he ended up becoming one of her best students. During this Almanzo (Kevin Massey) visits Laura gives her rides and they start to fall in love (or at least not at first). Again, chemistry was great with Kevin and Kara. I remember wanting to see more scenes with the two because they worked so well together. After awhile, the play unfortunately came to an end after two hours and twenty minutes and the looks on the audiences face after the show was really great. I didn’t see one person who was unhappy. In fact, the person right next to me told their daughter it was over and time to go home and she looked up and said no it isn’t, we haven’t seen Rose.
Overall, I had never seen anything like it! Literally! I have never been to a musical before, had no clue how they were done, but was very impressed! If anything, the effects! I enjoyed seeing the different backdrop screens. The fire backdrop was my favorite. The scene where the prairie is on fire with this particular backdrop made it very realistic on stage, especially the shadow effect when Carrie is helping her sister Mary during the fire. Just brilliant work!
The cast? What can I say? They ALL worked so well together and as mentioned already the chemistry was great with all the actors. Here are my thoughts on a few of the cast:
Laura Ingalls/Kara Lindsay: one word, WOW! Kara captured the spirit and spunk of Laura Ingalls. Not only did she capture Laura, but her music talent! What a voice! Not only did Kara have to play Laura as a child but all the way up to adult and what a performance! I could go on all day. Laura would have been proud!
Caroline “Ma” Ingalls/Melissa Gilbert: I could never say anything bad about Melissa’s work, because I have never seen perform in anything bad. If anything, I am more amazed
now than ever with Melissa’s talent as an actress. Her performance as Caroline was very well done. At first, it was hard seeing her in another character for a “Little House” project other than Laura Ingalls, but she changed my mind right away with her performance. Enjoyed her singing parts too, love seeing Melissa explore her talents.
Charles “Pa” Ingalls/Steve Blanchard: Brilliant actor who gave a brilliant performance! If I had to picture Charles from the books it would be Steve. Seeing him and Kara as Laura during scenes together was like watching the books come to life. His performance really sold the audience as Charles. Loved his performance in “The Prairie Moves” and most of all watching him and Melissa perform on stage together, great chemistry!
Carrie Ingalls/ Carly Rose Sonenclar: A wonderful performance by this young actress. Carly really brought the role of Carrie to life. Enjoyed her humor too! Carly has so much talent that whatever she pursues after “Little House” she will find success.
Mary Ingalls/Alessa Neeck: Amazing, amazing, amazing actress! Loved watching her performance as the big sister, but she sold me with her performance as the blind Mary. The emotions almost made you feel she was really blind. This was live work and not once did she go out of character, amazing performance!
Nellie Oleson/Kate Loprest: Incredible! No, Fabulous! Kate really stole the show with her portrayal of the mean Nellie Oleson. Under that mean Nellie face, Kate has one of the most
beautifulest voices I have ever heard! Wow! I could listen to her all day. Her performance “Without an Enemy” was funny but yet brilliantly performed. Love this lady!
Willie Oleson/Michael Boxleitner: A wonderful and very talented young actor! Michael has indeed inherited wonderful talents from his parents. At such a young age his performance was out of this world. I was very impressed!
Mr. Oleson/Todd Thurston: Great performance! His performance really made you think he was running the mercantile. Loved his line about playing games in his store, not once did he break character or anything. Very well done.
Again, FANTASTIC! I can’t say anything bad or think of anything that I would do better because it was all well done! When Laura Ingalls Wilder was alive she had many offers for her books to be turned into plays and she always said no because she didn’t want to see her characters changed or portrayed in certain ways. I feel, as a “Little House” historian, that if Laura Ingalls Wilder was alive today and could have seen this play she would have been impressed and her thoughts would have been different. If you have not seen this play I highly recommend it! You will not be disappointed! If you would like to attend a production or buy
tickets visit: http://littlehousethemusical.com/
Below is a promo video for "Little House on the Prairie The Musical" featuring Melissa Gilbert. Scenes are from the production held at Robinson Center Music Hall on November 4th, 2009
in Little Rock Arkansas (based on this review). Promo video was courtesy of Celebrity Attractions. For more information contact Lennon Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PrairieFans.com had the privilege and honor to go back stage and visit with the cast and crew of this musical. Everyone was beyond friendly and very, very, very down to earth. Below are some pictures with myself and some of the cast taken from this visit.