Gilbert back on 'Prairie' for musical


NEW YORK -- Patrick Swayze and Melissa Gilbert will star as Pa and Ma in an April workshop presentation of "Prairie," a musical version of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie." Gilbert played Laura in the long-running NBC television series from 1974-83.

Beth Henley, who won a Pulitzer for "Crimes of the Heart," wrote the book, Donna DiNovelli wrote the lyrics and Oscar winner Rachel Portman ("Emma") composed the music. Francesca Zambello will direct.

The musical is produced by Ben Sprecher, producer of this season's "A Moon for the Misbegotten"; his wife, Amy Sprecher, a longtime producer of children's programming (TLC and the Discovery Channel); Louise Forlenza ("Misbegotten," "Lennon"); Bob Boyett ("Monty Python's Spamalot," "The History Boys," "Journey's End"); and Wendy Federman ("Misbegotten").

The workshop will run April 16-17 in New York and be closed to the public. The producers are hoping for a national tour in spring 2008 before it lands in New York.

Andrew Salomon is news editor for Back Stage East.