Guthrie Theater to premiere 'Little House' musical Aug. 15by Jeff Baenen, Associated Press
Minneapolis — (AP) - The world of Laura Ingalls Wilder's popular "Little House on the Prairie" books will come to life this summer at the Guthrie Theater.
A musical based on the "Little House" books about Wilder's pioneering Midwest family will have its world premiere Aug. 15. Previews start July 26. Performances run through Oct. 5.
"If ever there was a subject matter that suited our region, it is Laura Ingalls Wilder's books," Guthrie director Joe Dowling said at a "Little House" sneak peek Tuesday.
Francesca Zambello, who will direct, said the musical will focus on the time the books' main character, Laura, spent as a teenager growing up in the 1880s.
Zambello said the middle books of the nine-book "Little House" series will form the basis of the musical. Having Laura as a teenager, instead of an 8-year-old girl, "made it much more theatrical," she said.
Rachel Portman, who won an Academy Award for her score for the 1996 movie "Emma," composed the music for "Little House." Zambello said Portman was a logical choice.
"It was clear to me that she had the voice, she could capture the spirit of the land but also the great melodies that would give us character songs and ballads and dances and duets, and that world was something she could create," Zambello told The Associated Press.
Wilder was born in Pepin, Wis. The action of the musical starts in western Minnesota where her family relocated, then moves to DeSmet, S.D., where the Ingalls family moved to file a land claim, Zambello said.
"They were constantly moving. They were poor, poor people, constantly in search of land that would yield them something," she said.
Zambello, who directed Disney's "The Little Mermaid" on Broadway earlier this year, said she hopes "Little House" appeals to more than the built-in audience of fans of the books and the TV series starring the late Michael Landon.
"I don't think it's just girls" who would enjoy the musical, Zambello said. "I think it's boys, I think it's families."
Rachel Sheinkin, who won a Tony for "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," wrote the book for "Little House," while Donna di Novelli wrote the lyrics.
Zambello said it's coincidental that the "Little House" creative team is mainly women.
"I think it's great. It wasn't on purpose. These are just the best people for the job," she said.
Ticket prices range from $29 to $75. Single tickets go on sale to the public June 27.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)