A few weeks ago Tyler was roaming around on the internet. He looks up and asks me "Hey, would you like to go to a musical at Bass Hall?". This was big news because first of all we hardly ever go out on a "date". Also, Tyler is a person who goes to musicals for three reasons:
1) We are in New York
2) I have procured the tickets for free through Free Night of Theater.
3) One of his immediate family members is in a local production.
Since this instance fell under none of those categories, I was more than curious. What musical possibly prompted him to make this suggestion all on his own? Well, here is the answer, friends:
Little House on the Prairie: The Musical! Knowing of my great love for almost all things Laura (no thanks, network TV miniseries ten years ago), especially the books, Tyler thought I might be a tad intrigued by this offering. And he was right. ( I was equally intrigued by his willingness to go with me and actually pay full price for these tickets...a man of surprises, that Tyler.) One last intriguing aspect: see that smaller caveat that says "with Melissa Gilbert as Ma"? That is certainly something isn't it? I had no idea the buck-toothed television Half-Pint could sing!...
So, Sat. June 12th saw us driving to Fort Worth's bright white art-deco inspired Bass Performance Hall.
Side-note: We'd never been there before and someone had told us it was fun to go there and just appreciate the building. And it is a nice building. They constructed in in the mid-nineties, when I was in college. It still looks new and shiny. The thing is, we just went to Europe last month. Specifically to Vienna. The style there is just a tad more...opulent. And old.
Now, back to the show, as it were.
I view going to theater productions to be in the same league as placing bets in Vegas. You just never know if you are going to get a gem that you love or something that you are going to love to mock. Sometimes there are clues. For example, positive word of mouth is generally a pretty good clue that it will be good. A musical that you have never heard of is a risk that sometimes pays off enormously, as it did when my parents and I saw "Jane Eyre" in New York and I love, love, loved it. Even my Dad enjoyed the whole thing, which is really monumental. So, just because I'd never heard of this musical didn't concern me too much, I knew I could love it or not, so it's obscurity didn't qualify as a clue to me. However, I do advise you to add one more circumstance to your list of clues: when it is a musical you've never heard of, with an actor that everyone has heard of as a headliner who has no musical background, take it as a sign that the only way the producers could get anyone in the doors to see this thing is if they use the TV Laura as bait. That's what she was, pure and simple. Something to lure an audience in, and then trap them there.
And in case you wondering if she missed her calling by not releasing some singles and doing a Miley Cyrus as a teen-television star, let me assure you, she did not. She wasn't a horrible singer, but she wasn't a Singer, if you know what I mean. Randy Jackson would certainly say that her performance was "pitchy". She seemed a bit terrified of her singing parts, but she held it together and nothing totally embarrassing happened to her. If I were her, I would definitely be more embarrassed about that strange accent and high pitched tone she was speaking with. It was extremely odd. I think she was trying to reinvent Ma, and took the fact that Caroline was born and raised in Wisconsin as a sign that she should do one of those broad "Wisconsin" accents. It did not work for her.
Something that certainly did not work for us were the songs. The lyrics were truly, truly awful Let me quote directly the chorus of one of the main songs (there were basically three songs in this show that would spin out time and time again. The program was loaded with things like " My Prairie Home...My Prairie Home Reprise...My Prairie Home Finale".) Here are the lyrics that pretty much killed Tyler:
"It's almost like I'm flying! But not really! But almost!"
I am not kidding. I did not change one word of that phrase. They sang that. Time and time again. Trust me I heard it enough to be sure of the words.
So, to sum up, if the touring company of "Little House on the Prairie: The Musical" comes through your town you'll have to decide how much an evening with Melissa Gilbert in a less than stellar production is worth to you. For me, a night out with my husband and bonding over the absurditity of it all was worth it. Definitely worth it.