By Deanna Walz
The weather was fitting for opening night of Little House Christmas at the Lincoln Community Playhouse. The cold rain made the glowing talent of the company seem all the warmer as the actors brought the familiar characters to life through a holiday season in peril from inclement weather.
The play written by James DeVita reintroduces us to Ma, Pa, Mary and Laura and their neighbors out on the prairie. Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder will remember all of the characters from the books including Mr. Edwards and the bratty Nellie Olson (adorably played by Claire Timperly). In a newly built log cabin, the family hosts a pre-holiday celebration that reinforces the idea that friends are indeed family. When disastrous weather threatens the ability of Santa to deliver presents on a flooded Christmas morning, sisters Mary and Laura discover, not only what Christmas is all about, but what lengths friends will go to help one another.
The biggest takeaway from the production was the warmth and camaraderie of the cast. During the dinner scene, you could tell how much the cast genuinely cared about one another. The way they listened and reacted to one another with genuine affection made the audience wish it could pull up a spot near the fire and listen to another one of Pa’s stories.
Which was one of the best scenes of the night. When Pa regaled the group with a story of a stolen homemade sled, the entire audience was charmed by the tale. This was the scene that reminded me most of how much I loved the character Pa — in the books, on TV played by Michael Landon, and now winningly played by John Duggar.
Other standout performances came from Melanie Wiggins who played the plucky Laura. With great comic timing and spirited deliveries, her portrayal of the iconic girl-on-the-prairie was spot on. Wade Bartels who played Mr. Edwards had so much fun on stage it was hard to watch his scenes without imaging smiles on every face in the sold out audience.
An interesting note about the cast: of the ten people on stage in the production, seven of them were making their debut on the Lincoln Community Playhouse stage. Watching so much new talent fall in love with performing (and watching the audience love them back) is one of the things that makes community theater so special. People from all walks of life coming together to share in an experience is what community theater is all about.
Little House Christmas runs December 1 at 7:30pm, December 2 at 2:00pm and continues next weekend as well. It’s a perfect show to see with family or to help you remember what the holidays are all about.
If you go: Lincoln Community Playhouse is located at 2500 S. 56th Street in Lincoln. Tickets are available on their website or by calling 402-489-7529.