Little House on the Prairie Musical Breaks Guthrie Box Office Record

By Andrew Gans
July 1, 2008

Tickets for the Guthrie world premiere of Little House on the Prairie, the new musical based on the series of books of the same name, went on sale June 27.

During that first day, 5,461 tickets to the musical were sold, breaking all previous box office records. Previous record holders included the 2007 Guthrie WorldStage presentation of the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of King Lear (3,639 tickets sold in one day) and the 2006 staging of the annual holiday show A Christmas Carol (1,363 tickets sold in one day).

Prairie demand remained high for the entire June 27-29 weekend. A total of 8,408 tickets were sold during that time.

In a statement Guthrie artistic director Joe Dowling said, "The numbers from Friday's sales clearly indicate the wide appeal of this material. We knew that the 'Little House' stories resonate in this region in a profound way, and now we know that Little House on the Prairie as a musical a truly American art form speaks to people across the nation in a powerful way."

Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls Wilder on NBC's long-running "Little House on the Prairie" series, will play Ma in the musical version of Prairie at the Minneapolis venue.

The cast will also feature 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 will comprise 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 Gilbert about appearing in the musical. Gilbert 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."

Performances of Little House on the Prairie will begin at the Guthrie July 26 with an official opening Aug. 15. The limited engagement directed by The Little Mermaid's Francesca Zambello will run through Oct. 5.

The new musical features a book by Rachel Sheinkin, music by Rachel Portman and lyrics by Donna DiNovelli.

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.

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

Tickets, priced $29-$65, are available by visiting the Guthrie box office or by calling (612) 377-2224 or (877) 44-STAGE. For more information go to www.littlehousethemusical.com.