Local Theater: A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas

We’re back for more local theaterings! Yes, there was an all for One show already this season that I didn’t remember to plug, but Interval was a very high concept show and I wasn’t sure what to say about it beyond it being about two people on a park bench. This time around there’s a little more backstory available for the show. Like, a whole book series worth.

Little House on the Prairie is a classic piece of Americana, a tale of the West and the settlers that loved it. While Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about a huge chunk of her early life there is a two year period which she left a blank. There are some personal papers and other documents that give a decent picture of what her life was like but that period of time isn’t a part of her famous series of books.

There are plenty of possible reasons for that. The family was hard up financially and Laura’s father was managing a hotel, a line of work that didn’t really fit with the theme of the stories. Also, on the advice of her publisher, Laura made herself older in her first two books than she actually was at the time, to make the viewpoint of her narrator more believable, and cutting the period out of the novels allowed her to sync her actual age and the age of her character in the stories back up. Finally, her youngest sibling had died in infancy and the death cast a pall over the family that Laura probably didn’t care to share with the world at large.

But there’s nothing like public interest to fill in the holes in a person’s life. A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas tells the story of part of those missing years, taking us into the hotel Charles Ingalls managed and letting us join with the Ingalls family as they struggle to deal with the loss of a child and the poverty of their circumstances.

I can’t say much more about the story as I’ve never read this play and I’m (gasp!) not involved in the show! But it promises music, fun and heart, so if you’re in Fort Wayne early this November it might be worth your checking out.

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