Thespians return to the stage — and normalcy — for annual Fragments of a Dream pageant
By Per Peterson
Messina Lessman might have some butterflies as she prepares for her role of Laura for this year’s Fragments of a Dream Pageant, but it’s nothing she can’t handle.
Lessman, a 10-year-old from Jackson, is sort of a pageant veteran, having played smaller roles in the past five performances.
“I really didn’t have to work too hard since I’ve been in it for six years — I kind of know most of my lines,” Lessman said prior to a public rehearsal last Thursday.
Lessman played Grace Ingalls her first year, and then Carrie for two years. After that, she played Julie Nelson, then Nellie Olseson and now Laura.
“I’m a little nervous, but not like, ‘Oh, I can’t do it,’” she said. “I know most of the adults who can help me if I need help, and I know most of the kids, too.”
“Fragments of a Dream,” which started in the summer of 1978 in the Walnut Grove School, will begin the weekend of July 9-10, and will run for the two weekends following — July 16-17 and July 23-24. Gates open at 7 p.m. each night, and pageant singers perform at 7:30 p.m., with the performance beginning at 8:30 p.m. COVID-19 protocols will be in place, including masks and social distancing, per state regulations.
Bill Richards, who has been involved with Fragments of a Dream for most of its 44 years, still wears a shirt that sarcastically reminds him of 2020.
It features a cartoon-like image of the Ingalls family, with masks on. That’s about the only reminder Richards needs of last year when “Fragments of a Dream” was cancelled because of COVID-19. Now, he and everyone else involved with the pageant, are only looking forward to and hoping for a big summer in Walnut Grove in 2021.
“It was a very difficult decision,” Richards said of cancelling last year’s shows. “When (the State) shut down the state fair, we knew we had to go. It wasn’t even a choice. But there were still people on the committee that said, ‘What if?’ We had to shift gears, and we thought about that last March — that we had to prepare ourselves.”
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