Gilbert Led 'LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE' Plays Paper Mill in Sept., Nat Tour to Follow

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, a new musical based on the beloved Laura Ingalls Wilder series of classic American books, will launch a national tour in October at The Ordway Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota, following a five-week engagement beginning September 10 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J. Melissa Gilbert, who rose to fame as a child playing ‘Laura' in the hugely successful NBC television series "Little House on the Prairie" during the 1970's, now continues her legacy ‘on the prairie' by taking on the role of Ma. LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE will also star Steve Blanchard as Pa and Kara Lindsay as Laura.

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, with Gilbert, Blanchard and Lindsay, had its world premiere production in August, 2008 at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, where it shattered all box-office records and sold-out for 12 consecutive weeks. The show is directed by Francesca Zambello (Disney's The Little Mermaid), with music by Academy Award winner Rachel Portman (Emma), lyrics by Donna di Novelli and a book by Tony Award winner Rachel Sheinkin (The 25TH Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee). The producers of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE are Ben Sprecher, Amy Sprecher, Louise Forlenza, Bob Boyett, Jay Harris, William Franzblau, Tony Fusco, Larry Feinman, and Nelle Nugent, in association with Wendy Federman and Bob Reich. The design team includes sets by Adrianne Lobel, lighting by Mark McCullough, and costumes by Tony winner Jess Goldstein.

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE is the uplifting story of an American family forging a new life amidst the mighty challenges, heartbreaks, joys and triumphs that face them in the newly-settled heartland. It is also the story of young Laura Ingalls, as she begins her life as a young woman, finding purpose, and finding love. Above all, it is the celebration of the pioneering spirit and the core values on which this country was founded - a spirit that still resonates today.

Following its Paper Mill Playhouse engagement, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE will begin an extensive national tour at the Ordway Theatre in St. Paul. After a two-week engagement there, the show will continue on to more than 30 additional cities throughout the U.S. and Canada in 2009 and 2010, including Denver, Toronto, Houston, Tempe and Sacramento. A complete tour schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.

Melissa Gilbert (Caroline "Ma" Ingalls). Theatre: Off-Broadway: A Shayna Maidel; Los Angeles' Canon Theater: Love Letters; Chautauqua Theater Company: The Glass Menagerie; Royal Poinciana Playhouse, Palm Beach: The Miracle Worker; University of Tennessee, Knoxville: Bus Stop, Love Letters; Guthrie Theater: Little House on the Prairie. Television: Series lead in "Little House on the Prairie," more than 40 movies for television including Emmy Award-winning The Miracle Worker, and more than a dozen television series, including "Nip/Tuck," and "Sweet Justice." Awards: Outer Critics Circle Award and Theatre World Award for A Shayna Maidal. Professional Affiliations: President, Screen Actors Guild, 2001-05. Currently Sustaining Board Chair and Spokesperson Children's Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition. Ms. Gilbert's new book Prairie Tale: A Memoir will be published in June by Simon & Schuster.

Steve Blanchard (Charles "Pa" Ingalls). Broadway: Beauty & the Beast, Camelot, The Three Musketeers and A Christmas Carol. National Tours: Camelot, The Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, A Funny Thing Happened..., and Hans Christian Andersen. Off-Broadway: Johnny Guitar, Frankenstein, An Oak Tree, and Moby Dick. Television: Law & Order, Ed, Third Watch, Police Story, Sunset Beat, The Guiding Light, One Life to Live, AnotherWorld, Superior Court and Rapmaster Ronnie for HBO. Steve can be heard on original recordings of Johnny Guitar, Sundown, Frankenstein, and his own debut CD North Bound Train. Visit online at www.steveblanchard.net

Kara Lindsay (Laura Ingalls). Theatre: 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle: Lone Star Love; West Virginia Public Theatre: Thoroughly Modern Millie, Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Hello, Dolly!; Guthrie: Little House on the Prairie; Carnegie Mellon University: Side Show, After Miss Julie, Hello Again, Oresteia. Training B.F.A., Acting/Musical Theater, Carnegie Mellon University.

Francesca Zambello (Director). Theatre: Broadway: Disney's The Little Mermaid; London: Royal Albert Hall: Showboat; West End: Napoleon, Lady in the Dark;Raimund Theater, Vienna: a new musical based on Rebecca; Old Globe Theatre, San Diego:First Wives Club; Disneyland: Aladdin; Seattle Children's Theatre: Tibet Through the Red Box; Bregenzs floating stage: West Side Story; Porgy and Bess (national tour); Skylight Music Theater: artistic director, 198491. Opera: Metropolitan Opera: An American Tragedy (world premiere), Cyrano de Bergerac (with Placido Domingo), Les Troyens; Teatro alla Scala: Cyrano; Royal Albert Hall: La Boheme; The Bolshoi: Fiery Angel, Turandot; Lyric Opera of Chicago: Salome, Tristan and Isolde; Royal Opera House: Carmen, Don Giovanni; Paris Opera: Boris Godunov, War and Peace, Billy Budd, William Tell; Washington National and San Francisco Operas: The Ring; San Francisco Opera: artistic advisor. Film: War and Peace (ORF), Amahl and the Night Visitors (BBC), The Little Prince (BBC/PBS). Awards: Three Olivier Awards; two Evening Standard Awards for best musical and best opera; two French Grand Prix des Critiques; Japanese Golden Prize; Helpmann Award; Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres; Russian Federations medal for Service to Culture; the Palme dOr in Germany; the Golden Mask in Russia. Teaching: Harvard and Berkeley universities: guest professor. Education: Colgate University; Moscow University, www.francescazambello.com

Rachel Portman (Music). Theatre: Little House on the Prairie. Film: The Duchess, Grey Gardens, Emma, The Cider House Rules, Chocolat, Infamous, The Manchurian Candidate, Oliver Twist, The Human Stain, Life is Sweet, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Beloved, Home Fries, Addicted to Love, Marvin's Room, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Only You, The Road to Wellville, Sirens, Benny & Joon, The Joy Luck Club, Used People, Smoke, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, Where Angels Fear to Tread, an original score and, with lyricist Don Black, songs for Disney's home video Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. Opera: The Little Prince. Concert: The Water Diviner's Tale. Awards: Academy Award for Best Original Score for Emma; Academy Award nominations for The Cider House Rules and Chocolat; British Film Institute's Young Composer of the Year Award.

DONNA DI NOVELLI (Lyrics). As a bookwriter/lyricist, Donna di Novelli's work has been presented at the New York City Opera, the Public Theater and Joe's Pub. She has recently been commissioned by the San Franciso Opera for a new work with composer Christopher Theofanidis. Her opera, Florida was part of the New York City Opera's Vox program and was presented at Lyric Opera Cleveland in 2007. Her music-theater piece, No God but Yearning was presented by Mabou Mines and Joe's Pub as part of their

New Musicals Now! Festival. She has written text for the Los Angeles Modern Dance and Ballet (Twelve Dancing Princesses) and book & lyrics for Hildegard: A Measure of Joy, commissioned by the Grammy Award winning vocal ensemble, Chanticleer. She has been invited to the National Musical Theater Conference, the Mac Dowell Colony, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Bellagio, Italy courtesy of the Rockefeller Foundation. Her stage play, The First Eff (Mark Taper Forum) was excerpted in "New Monologues For Women; by Women", Heinemann Press. She has won commissions and fellowships from the Manhattan Theater Club, ASCAP and the BBC. Besides teaching bookwriting in the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at Tisch (where she earned an MFA as an Ira Gershwin Fellow); she teaches playwriting at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and was a visiting professor at Brown University, where she earlier earned an A.M. She is a member of Dramatists Guild.

Rachel Sheinkin (Book) Broadway: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (with music and lyrics by William Finn, directed by James Lapine); Off -Broadway: Striking 12 (collaboration with rock trio GrooveLily, directed by Ted Sperling); Regional and International: Little House on the Prairie (Guthrie), Sleeping Beauty Wakes (score by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda; Jeff Calhoun director): Deaf West, Center Theater Group; book and lyrics for Serenade (music by Nils Olaf Dolven): Jaradoa Theater Company; book and lyrics for Blood Drive (music by Joel Derfner): Bridewell Theater, London. Teaching: Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts; National Theatre Institute. Awards: For The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Award, LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award; Fellowships/commissions: Baryshnikov Dance Foundation, Manhattan Theater Club, Playwrights Horizons, Eugene O'Neill National Music Theater Conference, MacDowell Colony. Professional Affiliations: ASCAP, Dramatists Guild.

 

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.

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