little house on the prairie

Thursday, October 16, 2008 | |

little house on the prairie
Emily and I went to see Little House on the Prairie (the new musical) at the Guthrie last Friday. The music was by Rachel Portman, the film composer (Chocolat, Emma, Hart's War, among many others). Her previous foray into music for the stage was her opera adaptation of The Little Prince, which I loved. Her attempt at a traditional American musical (and one telling a very American story, at that) is, I thought, less successful. Her style does well when she's writing aria-esque duets or solo numbers, but her attempts at traditional ensemble Broadway song-and-dance numbers fall a little bit flat.

The book is also bit uneven; as a series of vignettes, none of them make an impact. Dramatic tension is hard to come by. Homesteading was serious business; the musical misses the opportunity to really sink its teeth into the psychology of those who dared to undertake it, preferring to substitute familiar cliches and archetypes. The effect successfully emulates a long-running episodic tv show that never goes anywhere, but that's not a good thing. The musical just had its world premiere last month, but it already feels like a nostalgia act.

But don't worry; I still had a good time.

Oh, and yes, security did ask me to put away my camera after I snapped this. Very politely, I might add.