Last night was the big opening night for Little House on the Prairie, the Musical at Detroit's Fox Theater. My family was in attendance as "Little House Ambassadors". I just love going to the gorgeous Fox Theater. We don't get to go very often and seeing a show downtown is always a treat.
Little House on the Prairie, the Musical starts out in the beginning, with the Ingalls family staking their claim to land in the West and continues on through the marriage of Laura and Almanzo. Kara Lindsey, who plays Laura as child through adult, beautifully captures the wild child of Laura. Her voice inflections and mannerisms surely convince the audience that she is just a youngster, with her stage voice and actions maturing with the character. Alessa Neeck and Carly Rose Sonenclar, cast as Mary and Carrie respectively, do an equally fine job of portraying their characters. Pa is played by Steve Blanchard, who has appeared on Law and Order, a variety of soap operas, and numerous stage productions on and off Broadway. As a special treat for those that grew up watching the Little House TV series, Ma is played by Melissa Gilbert.
Wicked fans will enjoy seeing Kate Loprest, who played Wicked's Glinda, return to the Fox stage, this time as Nellie. Loprest as Nellie adds quite a bit of humor to the show. I didn't miss the irony that Loprest had previous played a witch, a characterization I've always put on the mean Nellie. Both characters are "good (and manipulative) witches" that are transparent in their folly. Kevin Massey plays Almanzo, who courts Nellie for a time after Laura's rejection, before winning over Laura, which brought about applause from the audience. Massey probably brings more appeal to the boys in the audience as a young male lead who tames horses and tends to the land - while in pursuit of the girl.
My whole family enjoyed the show, especially my theater-loving daughter. This wasn't a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat show for my 10-year-old wiggly son, but I did get a "It was good," out of him when the show was over. If you have a young boy in your house, you'll know that isn't too bad. For those who have fond memories of the Little House book and TV series, this will be a fun trip down memory lane while sharing the experience with your young Little House fans. It isn't often that a production comes around suitable for the whole family without having adults succumb to big yellow birds or the need to cover eyes and ears of little ones.
For those of you who must have every single detail to be true to the original 9-book series, don't expect the whole series to be portrayed exactly in a 2-hour production. I had no trouble with the the theatrical version, though I'll have to admit that I don't remember every detail of every book or episode. However, there was a family of three behind us that left at intermission in a huff grumbling that the play wasn't "accurate". I have to admit I felt sorry for their little girl, who was about 7 or 8, as I can't imagine that she wasn't enjoying the show immensely! I honestly can't imagine why anyone would have such expectations, but thought I'd mention in case there are any of your who are that, um...uptight...about accuracy. I can't give you details of discrepancies, nor was I looking for them. I simply enjoyed the show.
While the show was enjoyable, one of the highlights was getting to meet some of the cast after the show. My normally outgoing, theater-aspiring daughter suddenly turned shy when presented with the opportunity to chat with professional actors and actresses. She finally mustered up the courage to ask Neeck and Lindsay about their paths to the big stage. These two young ladies were sweet and honest - a joy to talk to. Blanchard gave her excellent advice as well, and encouraged her to strive toward her goals and not get discouraged if others get her down, as there will always be someone ready to do so. Melissa Gilbert made a brief appearance. Gilbert's visit was unexpected, but was arranged for a little girl donning roses, who was anticipating her and looking a bit crushed. We really didn't talk to her, but our family did get a huge chuckle over an overzealous mother who was gushing on with, "I've read all of your books..." as if she were THE Laura Ingalls Wilder. Gilbert looked particularly tired after the performance, but was polite. Her dog, Josephine, was a bit grumpy though! I only know the dog's name because it was scolded a few times! We did get an autograph for our program and an attempt at a picture with a cell phone. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed in the theater and it was too dark for a cell picture to turn out. There are no photo memories other than the one outside the theater, but it was a great experience nonetheless.