You might have wondered why I found myself driving across South Dakota recently. I’ve heard for years about the DeSmet annual Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant, in which the townspeople put on a play based on one of the Little House series of books. Unsurprisingly, their play rotation focus on the books set partially or completely in DeSmet–By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter and Little Town on the Prairie. This year’s production was Little Town, and I have to say that I was impressed. The talent is mostly local, with the major roles played by high school or college students. Local younger children and adults played some of the smaller roles. The permanently installed stage sets, lights, and sound are not small-town at all, and the setting on the South Dakota prairie is beautiful and memorable. The show was timed so that complete darkness finally fell just as the play ended, so the mosquitoes held off until the curtain call. I strongly and enthusiastically recommend a visit.
My only criticism? I don’t mind seeing a high schooler play Charles Ingalls, but he really should try to cultivate Pa’s crazy ugly hipster beard. They’re back in style these days.
Those of you who know the books will remember that DeSmet is the place where the Ingalls family finally settled after Pa’s restless and relentlessly unsuccessful attempts at homesteading in Wisconsin, Kansas, and Minnesota. Continue Reading »