‘Lit­tle House on the Prairie’ at The Fox a real treat

The Covington News - - Front page -

“Lit­tle House on the Prairie, the Mu­si­cal,” opened at the Fox Theater in At­lanta on June 15 and will be play­ing un­til Sun­day, June 20.

The much beloved tele­vi­sion show, “Lit­tle House on the Prairie,” which ran from 1974 to 1983, has be­come a mu­si­cal com­plete with one of the main stars of the tele­vi­sion show, Melissa Gil­bert. Gil­bert played Laura “Half-pint” In­galls, young daugh­ter and even­tual author of a se­ries of chil­dren’s books en­ti­tled “Lit­tle House on the Prairie.” Two years ago she was of­fered the part of “Ma,” the mother in the books and play. She ad­mits to no sing­ing abil­ity, but started sing­ing lessons, reread the se­ries of “Lit­tle House” books and loved the beau­ti­ful play script.

Un­like the tele­vi­sion se­ries, the main por­tion of the play is set years later when Laura is reach­ing wom­an­hood and fac­ing her own fu­ture. Prairie life, strug­gling to claim their land rights in DeS­met, S. D., the In­galls fam­ily seek a bet­ter life for them­selves dur­ing the west­ward push of new im­mi­grants. Through songs and dances, the story un­folds in front of bril­liant, col­or­ful sets and back­drops. We see the harsh­ness of win­ter bliz­zards with hardly any food for the new res­i­dents, but the fam­ily sur­vives and pros­pers.

Mu­sic is by Os­car win­ner Rachel Port­man, and the mu­si­cal is di­rected by Francesca Zam­bello who also di­rected Broad­way’s “The Lit­tle Mer­maid.” A live or­ches­tra ac­com­pa­nies the theater com­pany.

Sev­eral of the songs are mem­o­rable and beau­ti­ful — “I’ll Be Your Eyes,” sung by Laura and her sis­ter, Mary, who be­came blind af­ter con­tract­ing scar­let fever. “The Prairie Moves” sung by Pa, who is a vet­eran Broad­way ac­tor/singer. Melissa Gil­bert has a solo song and is quite good. Her solo is “Wild Child,” and she sings this song to Laura who is grown at the end of the play.

Lara Lind­say, orig­i­nated the mu­si­cal’s Laura, at the Guthie The­atre in Min­nesota. She holds a B.F.A. from Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­sity, has a spec­tac­u­lar voice and range and is the main singer in the play. She is ca­pa­ble of pulling off the ag­ing of Laura from child to young adult.

“Pa” In­galls is played by Steve Blan­chard, re­cently ap­pear­ing in Broad­way’s “Beauty and the Beast,” as the Beast for eight years.

His sing­ing is also very good and he is able to han­dle the en­tire stage.

The story would not be com­plete with­out one of the cast of reg­u­lars who de­lighted the tele­vi­sion au­di­ence weekly — Nel­lie Ole­son, the thorn in Laura’s side. Kate Lo­prest, who ap­peared on Broad­way in “Hair­spray” and re­cently de­but in the role of Scar­let on ABC’s “All My Chil­dren,” is Nel­lie. She is the comic re­lief.

As a road­show, it has quite a large cast with sev­eral chil­dren as young as ten, in­clud­ing Melissa Gil­bert’s son, Michael Boxleit­ner in his the­atri­cal de­but. Anas­ta­sia Kor­bal, who plays Laura’s youngest sis­ter, Car­rie, is a very gifted 10-year-old ac­tor/singer.

Au­di­ences of all ages should en­joy Lit­tle House. There were lots of young chil­dren in the au­di­ence on open­ing night who ob­vi­ously were fa­mil­iar with the tele­vi­sion se­ries and their char­ac­ters, some even dressed in pe­riod cos­tumes. Al­though they may not un­der­stand the se­ri­ous­ness of the dia­log at times, the mu- sic, danc­ing and set changes should keep them in­ter­ested. Prior to the play be­gin­ning, we were treated to an or­gan con­cert on the “Mighty Mo” by res­i­dent or­gan­ist, Larry Em­bury. The boom­ing sound of the or­gan through­out the richly ap­pointed the- atre is a real treat.

Tick­ets are avail­able at the Fox box of­fice; for in­for­ma­tion call (404) 881-2100, call for avail­abil­ity. Ticket prices range from $30-$80. It is a fam­ily friendly play. $7-10 play park­ing is avail­able all around the Fox.

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