Tale of 1870s pioneer girl continues to attract crowds
What would Laura Ingalls think, if she could somehow return to Walnut Grove this weekend?
The author of “On the Banks of Plum Creek” might be amazed at all the fuss people were making over her. This summer, Walnut Grove is staging its 40th annual pageant based on her experiences growing up on the prairie in the 1870s.
The pageant production, “Fragments of a Dream,” begins the first of six July performances Friday, July 14, and Saturday, July 15. Gates open at 7 p.m., with the Pageant Singers performing at 8 p.m. and the drama beginning at 9 p.m. Other performances are Fridays and Saturdays, July 21-22 and 28-29.
The pageant began as a play, based on a script written by James Merchant, in a stiflingly sultry school gym in 1978. The drama drew such big crowds that the production moved outdoors in 1979. The Wilder Fragment has been drawing crowds to its outdoor amphitheater on a hillside southwest of Walnut Grove ever since. Many enhancements have been made to the production over the years. Professional quality sets, lighting, and sound were added to the amphitheater, along with horse-drawn wagons and buggies.
Errol Steffen, who returns in the role of “Pa,” leads a cast of 46 men, women, and children. Steffen holds the distinction of being the only pageant cast member who has been in every pageant performance, including the first 1978 indoor endeavor. Kari Vaupel returns as Caroline Ingalls.
Heidi Morgan is again playing “Old Laura.” Morgan’s character serves as a narrator for the pageant, introducing each scene as she looks back on the life.
The Ingalls children—always audience favorites—are Josie Alvstad as Mary; Jacey Altermatt as Laura; Messina Lessman and Carrie; and Fiona Bayer as Grace.
Thomas Knudson, Julie Danielowski, Breeley Ruble, and Hogan Vaupel portray the raucously amusing Oleson family.
Other cast members include Matt Coleman, Cindy Prins, Caledon Lessman, Callie Highby, Carlee Sell, Logan Winzetl, Beth Danielowski, Frederick Plaetz, Lyric Ruble, Daniel DeSmith, Miranda Ankrum, Taryn Lessman, Daryl Hardlicka, Megan Ruble, Andrew Balhnik, Alex Hardlicka, Mataya Nelson, Tara Roberts, Kerris Vaupel, Darah Altermatt, Halle Landuyt, Maddie Alvstad, Fiona Bayer, Haaken Asp, Stacy Hansen, Konsondra Duerksen,
Lowell Highby, Teri Herder-Blahnik, Norma Raymond, Eva Highby, Logan Weinzetl, Wendy Rogotzke, James Blahnik, Nancy Weinzetl, Parker Alvstad.
Former pageant cast members will be recognized at pageant performances as part of the 40th pageant anniversary. 2017 also marks the 150th anniversary of Laura Ingalls’s birthday in 1867.
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For ticket information, call 1-888-859-3102 or go online at walnutgrove.org.
See this week’s Headlight-Herald for more photos.