Last of This Week, First of the Next

August 25, 2008

As serious Little House fans, we all know that Laura Ingalls Wilder wasn’t particularly beholden to the absolute truth. And for the most part, this doesn’t bother me. I can forgive her plot discrepancies. I can accept her lapses of memory, even her deliberate distortions of fact. I don’t much care that she folded Stella Gilbert and Genny Masters into the amalgam of Nellie Oleson. And fudging Almanzo’s age? No big deal.

One fact that I didn’t think I’d have to give up was the day of the week on which she and Almanzo were married. He stopped for her on Tuesday, unexpectedly, and they planned to get married as soon as possible in order to avoid a big wedding by his family. They got married nine days later, on Thursday.

Or so Laura wrote.

As I came to find out, this was another fact Laura got wrong. In fact, it’s almost embarrassingly easy to dispute.

I was OK with all the other liberties Laura had taken as a writer, inadvertent or not. But finding out that she’d actually gotten married on a Tuesday, not the Thursday she’d written about in These Happy Golden Years?

I gotta admit that one hurt a little bit.

Happy Anniversary, Laura and Almanzo! “And the twenty-fifth of August had come again, and this winter and summer were the one hundred twenty-third year.”


The Homesteader As Critic

August 23, 2008

I meant to post yesterday, but we got a little bogged down with The Man of the Place’s birthday. It was a sweet celebration.

We at the Homesteader are big fans of Pamela Smith Hill’s recent biography of Laura, Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life. Recently the catalog for the book’s publisher, the South Dakota State Historical Society Press, made its way into my mailbox. On page 4, where Laura Ingalls Wilder, A Writer’s Life was listed for sale, excerpts of reviews from three publications ran alongside the book listing, and the first publication quoted was the Homesteader. Later on when I checked the book’s page on the Press’s web site, I discovered they included quite a bit more than the excerpt in the catalog.

Haven’t read the book yet? You can try before you buy. The publisher offers a preview of Chapter 1 in PDF form.

What’s In Your Laura Ingalls Wilder Display?

August 20, 2008

Here in our little house on the high plains, we’ve spent the last few weeks reallocating our space. That means a lot of furniture acquisition, and even more furniture banishment. It also means relocation of many objects, which often requires a shift in thinking. (Hey, how about I put the DVDs there? There’s totally room for them! Now I have this whole empty shelf space to work with!)

One set of belongings that has benefited from this reallocation is my Laura Ingalls Wilder “stuff.” It’s a sizeable enough collection, but I know I don’t have nearly the stash that a lot of LIW enthusiasts have accumulated. I used to be a completist, but the past decade or so I’ve been fighting my packratty tendencies. So I’ve only got a few things — a bread plate, a few gift-shop knick-knacks, some of Laura’s silver pattern — plus lots and lots of books.

I’m hoping a fan out there can help me with a problem I’ve come up against. Most of this stuff displays nicely, but I’m stuck on the silver. Just how does one display a serving spoon or two?

For that matter, fellow Laura fans, what does your “Laura area” look like? Here’s an idea. Let’s make this a long-term thing. I think all Laura fans would like to see one another’s fanspace. If you’ve got a cool space — even a room — dedicated to showcasing your Laura collection, snap a picture of it and tell us something about it. I’ll post all who submit right here.

But I still need suggestions for the silver.

Opening Weekend Reviews; Laura Ingalls Wilder Letters

August 18, 2008

Reviews abound! Take a look — read about the play courtesy of the Minneapolis-St. Paul and St. Paul newspapers, Variety, and Frontier Girl. Remember–there may be spoilers!

The Variety review wraps up with the following point: ” .. its faithfulness to the source (as well as its unwillingness to transcend the conventions of musical theater) leave an empty taste.” I read and reread this. Staying faithful to the books while still keeping it a musical, in this reviewer’s opinion, actually limits the potential of the show. Interesting.

Also, everyone seems to like the Laura-Mary duet, “I’ll Be Your Eyes.”

And I must be living under a rock. I only just discovered the new tricked-out web site for the musical (on the Guthrie theater site).

In other news, Sarah Sue Uthoff is making papers all over the country — including this one in my home state. (Sorry they put you in Minnesota, Sarah Sue.) Her “Letters from Laura Ingalls Wilder” collection project is getting a lot of attention. I hope it brings in more letters!

Little House Musical on NPR

August 15, 2008

National Public Radio covered opening day at the Guthrie, which you can listen to here. It features snippets of the songs, and I admit I got a little excited listening to them. They don’t bring up Melissa Gilbert until more than halfway through–and then only for a moment. Impressive.

How A Show Gets To Broadway

August 14, 2008

Esther explained the whole Broadway thing to us in the comments. Thanks, Esther, for educating me! It really helps.

Well normally, you’d have an out-of-town tryout, followed by a move to Broadway, followed by a national tour a year or so later. You wouldn’t have one production open on Broadway while another production opens on tour.

But of course after a show has been on Broadway for a year, you could have one or more touring companies at the same time that it’s playing in New York, like Hairspray and Wicked and Mamma Mia! have, for example. The sets are usually a little scaled down so they can be moved easily from city to city, the choreography may be changed slightly to accommodate a smaller stage and they could even eliminate a song. But usually it’s pretty much the same show that you’d see in New York.

And yes, the touring company would have an entirely different cast from the Broadway production. One in awhile, the Broadway actors do go on tour with a show, but that’s pretty rare. (I think a couple of the Mary Poppins actors will tour when that show goes out next year(). I wouldn’t expect Melissa Gilbert or Kara Lindsay to tour, but you never know. They might go to a couple big cities with it, like Los Angeles or Toronto, where a show would stay for a few weeks. But I can’t see Melissa Gilbert going on a nationwide tour where she’s in a different city every weekend!

Sometimes a show will skip Broadway entirely and just tour. There’s a production of Happy Days, based on the tv show, that’s touring but was never on Broadway. I think that’s probably what the Little House producers originally intended but I think they’re also keeping their options open, especially with the buzz that’s building at the Guthrie.

Ideally, they’d love to take it to Broadway. That increases a show’s marketability when it goes on tour, especially if it manages to win a Tony award. But Little House has such great name recognition, it doesn’t need awards. It could probably skip Broadway, go right out on tour and do great. Still, Broadway’s like the major leagues. If you’re an actor or a composer or a producer, you want a chance to play in the big leagues.

If anyone’s heading to the play during these first few opening days, report back, or let us know where the reviews are. How exciting this all is!

August Haiku

August 13, 2008

Buck-toothed TV star
TV movies and SAG prez
Now onstage as Ma

Little House onstage
Laura and Nellie singing?
Stranger things, I guess.

Ink-stained Jake presents
Laura name cards over lunch
Handsome chauffeur back

No farmer for me
Not the life I want for us
I’ll give it four years

I said I’d bring meat
But watched the deer, bear and fawn
And just couldn’t shoot

Does the snow taste sweet?
He called it a sugar snow
Sneaky tongue taste — no

Screaming in the night
A mouse and a head of hair
Charles! Your hair’s been CUT!