In the current age of modern action series like Heroes, its hard to believe that a simple show like Little House on the Prairie was once a mainstay of the NBC Monday night schedule. The series ran for nine successful seasons on the peacock network and starred Michael Landon, Karen Grassle, Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson and Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush. Landon was a co-executive producer of the series and directed many of the episodes.
Based loosely on the books by best-selling author Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957), the series told the story of the pioneer Ingalls family and friends as they mad thie life in 1800s frontier Minnesota. One of the joys of the series was in watching young Melissa Gilbert as Laura grow through her early childhood into a mature teacher and mother. Now, 24 years after the series went off the air, Gilbert is returning to Little House on the Prairie.
Gilbert and Patrick Swayze have been signed to appear in a musical version of Little House on the Prairie. The staged reading of the new musical called Prairie, based on the original books by Ingalls Wilder, will feature Gilbert and Swayze as Ma and Pa Ingalls.
Beth Henley, who won the Pulitzer for writing Crimes of the Heart, wrote the play’s book. Donna DiNovelli wrote the lyrics and Oscar-winner Rachel Portman (Emma) composed the music. International director Francesca Zambello will direct the workshop. Zambello is set to direct a stage version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid in the Fall.
The staged readings will take place April 16-17 in Manhattan. Though the readings will be closed to the public, producers are hoping to mount a national tour for next Spring. If all goes according to plan, it could land on a New York stage after that. Stay tuned!