This Little House makes for a big show

Little House on the Prairie

Ruby Goihl, 10, playing Carrie Ingalls, looks up at Jada Rounds, 14, playing Laura Ingalls during a rehearsal of Little House on the Prairie on Nov. 18, 2019, at Peace United Church of Christ in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

It’s time to get a little “Wilder” with the Once & Future Classics theater troupe. They’re ready to present “Little House on the Prairie: The Musical.” But beside the name, there won’t be anything little about this show.

Through story, song, and dance, the musical presents Laura Ingalls’ adventures as she journeys to DeSmet, South Dakota where her homesteading family works hard to keep their land, survive winter blizzards, and brave prairie fires. Throughout, Laura learns to remain true to herself as she transitions from the carefree life of a child to the responsibility-filled life of a young woman.

“The themes of overcoming difficulty, love of family and community, and coming of age are all integral in this historical fiction, set right here in the Midwest,” says Jaymi Wilson, the production’s musical director.

Little House on the Prairie

The cast poses for a portrait during a rehearsal of Little House on the Prairie on Nov. 18, 2019, at Peace United Church of Christ in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

The cast of the show features 40 members with some as young as nine years old and others in their sixties. It is directed by Aaron Rocklyn. He says he chose the play because it captures the best stories from the Little House books. The stories are entertaining, but they also teach about pioneer life, while fitting the theater company’s mission to bring classic literature to the stage. “We are the first community theater in the state to produce it, so this will be a first-time experience for Rochester audiences,” Rocklyn says.

“We were surprised to see how dependent these rugged pioneers were on each other,” he continues. “It's a good reminder for those of us today, often physically isolated on our phones and computers, that we are still just as dependent on one another as these early settlers were in the 1800s.”

For Rocklyn, one of the most exciting parts of the production is its music. While he says many in the cast knew the Little House stories were great, the songs have left a real impact: “We don't seem to be able to stop singing them when the rehearsals are over!”

Content sponsored by Once & Future Classics.

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