New Musical Little House on the Prairie Makes World Premiere July 26 at the Guthrie

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26 Jul 2008

Melissa Gilbert, Jenn Gambatese, Kara Lindsay and Steve Blanchard
Melissa Gilbert, Jenn Gambatese, Kara Lindsay and Steve Blanchard
Melissa Gilbert, who played young Laura Ingalls Wilder on NBC's long-running "Little House on the Prairie" series, returns to that world — now playing Ma in the musical inspired by the famous "Little House" books. Previews begin July 26 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

Little House on the Prairie, directed by The Little Mermaid's Francesca Zambello, will officially open Aug. 15. The limited engagement has already been extended due to ticket demand and will now run an additional two weeks through Oct. 19.

The new musical features a book by Tony Award winner Rachel Sheinkin (...Spelling Bee), music by Academy Award winner Rachel Portman ("Emma") and lyrics by Donna DiNovelli.

The cast also features Steve Blanchard (Beauty and the Beast, Frankenstein) as Pa, Carnegie Mellon graduate Kara Lindsay as Laura, Jenn Gambatese (Tarzan, Is He Dead?) as Mary, Sara Jean Ford (The Phantom of the Opera) as Nellie and Kevin Massey (Big River, Tarzan) as Almanzo Wilder.

The ensemble comprises Tori Adams, Mathias Anderson, Lexy Armour, Robert O. Berdahl, Kurt Engh, Shawn Hamilton, Caroline Innerbichler, Norah Long, Ryan McCartan, Addi McDaniel, Mary Jo Mecca, Patricia Noonan, Prince Michael Okolie, James Ramlet, David L. Ruffin, Gayle Samuels, Amy Schroeder, Tony Vierling and Jordan Young.



It was producer Ben Sprecher, who is attached to the project, who contacted stage and screen star Gilbert about appearing in the musical. Gilbert recently told Variety, "I'm very careful about the way the legacy is handled. My primary concern was that the material was done the right way."

The Guthrie describes Little House as such: "Though their DeSmet, South Dakota, farmstead comes with many new challenges, the Ingalls family perseveres through the hardships of pioneer life to find hope, love and the promise of a new beginning in a land of endless sky and open prairie. As Laura struggles to overcome a lifelong loathing of school and frequent battles with a town rival, her older sister's sudden blindness and a harsh winter blizzard test the independent spirit of this young pioneer. Forced to grow up quickly, she follows an unexpected calling, becoming a teacher and finding love on the prairie."

The creative team for Little House also includes set designer Adrianne Lobel, costume designer Jess Goldstein, lighting designer Mark McCullough, sound designer Scott W. Edwards, choreographer Michele Lynch and musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell.

Little House on the Prairie is being produced at the Guthrie by special arrangement with Global Prairie Productions, Inc.

Single tickets for the production, priced $29-$75, are available by calling (612) 377-2224 or (877) 44-STAGE or by visiting www.guthrietheater.org/prairie.

The Guthrie is located at 818 South 2nd Street in downtown Minneapolis.