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Ma. Pa. Half-Pint. Mary. Almanzo. For those of us who grew up in the 1970s and '80s, these names mean something.
“Little House on the Prairie, the Musical” opened Saturday at the Community Center Theatre. Melissa Gilbert, who starred as Laura Ingalls Wilder in the original television series, plays the beloved “Ma”. And what a gift she gives audiences that have cherished her all these years.
The musical version of Wilder’s classic series published 75 years ago does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of her story. It is a tale of family, hardship, community and love. This adaptation does a fantastic job of portraying our infant country through the eyes of settlers in the Dakota Territory in the early 1880s.
It also is the story of a young woman struggling to find her way in a country in which being a “wild child” was left to the boys. The heroine, Laura, is as tied to the prairie as she is to her family. She is a spirited and sassy child whose escapades with her sister Mary and archenemy, Nellie Oleson, leave the audience laughing. In the song before the finale, Gilbert sings to her daughter -- the character she played for 10 years -- about finding and loving herself. It is a full-circle moment for fans.
This play is a must-see. For those of us who are decadeslong fans, it is a walk down memory lane. Youngsters new to the story will witness a beautiful portrayal of our country with an engaging storyline. It is a treat for young and old alike.
“Little House on the Prairie, the Musical” runs through April 25. For more information, visit www.littlehousethemusical.com.