It’s Sarah, Plain and Tall. Yessirree, they’re going to stage an adaptation of the classic children’s novel of Kansas prairie life by Patricia MacLachlan. The novel, and its sequel, Skylark, were already turned into three made-for-TV Hallmark films in the ’90s, starring Glenn Close and Christopher Walken, probably the last films in which Walken wasn’t positively creepy or funny. The screenplays were written by MacLachlan herself.
This time, the book about the widower-farmer advertising for a wife and mother for his two kids, will be written by Julia Jordan ,with music by Laurence O’Keefe and lyrics by Nell Benjamin, the composer-lyricist team behind Broadway’s Legally Blonde. The Dallas Theater Center is advertising this as a world premiere because it’s a full, two-act adaptation. An earlier one-act version of the musical was staged in 2002 at Theatreworks/USA, the Manhattan stage company for young people.
The original 1985 novel won a Newbery Medal — the children’s book award presented by the American Library Association — partly because it dealt with the problems of re-marriage. Sarah arrives from Maine — she answers the ad, explaining that she’s plain and tall and not necessarily everything Jacob Whitting may want. His first wife died in childbirth, leaving the kids feeling abandoned.
The musical runs at the DTC April 22-May 24