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Little House at the Guthrie

September 11, 2008 - Cindy Votruba
OK, I’m getting a little behind on my blogging, so I better use this little window of time I have to write about my trip to the Guthrie Saturday. As you may have seen in Tuesday’s paper, a group of folks from Walnut Grove got to see the “Little House on the Prairie” musical and briefly meet a few of the actors from the show, including Melissa Gilbert from the television series fame.

When I did a story back in July about what folks from Walnut Grove thought about the influence the show would have on people visiting the town, I learned that some of them were planning on going to the show on Sept. 6. I had asked Amy at the museum if there was any seats left that I could come along. At first she said there was a couple left. Then when I asked a followup question for the story, she said she had overbooked the trip. I was a little bummed, but I figured this trip is more for those from WG anyways.

A few weeks later, Amy sent me an e-mail saying there was one more seat and she won’t ask anyone else until she heard from me. So I took the chance.

Saturday morning saw me driving to WG at 6:15 in the morning to get on the school activity bus heading to Minneapolis. With a stop in Belle Plaine to hit the restroom and get snacks (I got a lemon bar from Emma Krumbee’s!), we got there just a little after 10 a.m. We all got a backstage tour, which included seeing the scene shop, a rehearsal room, the costuming area and a couple of the theaters. I had intended to do a followup story anyways, so I wanted to take some photos to go along with the story. The volunteer who was leading our tour, Barry, almost had a heart attack when I snapped a shot inside the theater. I’m like, there’s not a show going on, just a little set building...but OK, I’ll comply so we don’t get kicked out of the Guthrie altogether. I got some shots of the new 35W bridge from one of the outside viewing areas of the Guthrie. Pretty cool.

After the tour, the lot of us took advantage of the $15 lunch coupon we got to the Cue, one of the Guthrie’s restaurants. The staff knew we all had a bit of a time limit as we were seeing the 1 p.m. show, but with the table I was sitting at with Dave and Christy Hemp and Shirley Knakmuhs, we were cutting it close. But we’ll admit, the food was awesome. I had the hickory smoked pork sandwich with polenta fries. Dave and Shirley had the burger and Christy had a portabella mushroom sandwich. We sampled each other’s sauces we got to go with our sandwiches and fries.

And we made it in time to get to our seats. Fortunately, the show didn’t start til a little after 1 p.m. But once the show got going, it was seamless. The actors moved set pieces on and off stage almost effortlessly. The songs were catchy and told the stories well. The actresses who played Mary, Laura and Nellie sang superbly (and I’m not just saying that). Melissa Gilbert as Caroline Ingalls sang OK, but she also did great in the role.

After the show, a few of the actors, including Gilbert, came out in the lobby to greet people and sign autographs. Of course it was a mob scene around Gilbert. But fans did gather around the actors who played Laura and Almanzo and take photos. Gilbert had her dog with her, who did OK with all the people around her. Sandy Carpenter got an autograph from Gilbert to go along with the one she got from Dean Butler six years ago when he was in WG. Everyone was happy as they boarded the bus. As we pulled away from the Guthrie, we saw Gilbert, her dog, and the actors who played Laura and Charles Ingalls walking down the sidewalk.


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