WATCH: Melissa Gilbert Talks About Her Jewish Background

Beloved Melissa Gilbert, known for her role as Laura Ingalls on “The Little House on the Prairie,” is in Minneapolis with her Emmy Award-winning director/actor husband Timothy Busfield (“thirtysomething,” “The West Wing”). They are among a number of actors participating in  The 24 Hour Plays at the Pantages Theatre (710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis), March 13.

Gilbert and Busfield spoke with TC Jewfolk about the importance of being a part of this stage project in Minneapolis, and also about pancakes, plastic bunny duckies, and what it was like to grow up Jewish in Gilbert’s house.

The 24 Hour Plays is a project of one-night-only plays occurring in several cities across the U.S. and brings together the extraordinary talent of local and nationally-known artists to create six new theatrical plays within 24 hours. See more videos about the process at this related post. The goal is to raise scholarship funds for high school and theater programs.  Proceeds from the Minneapolis performance support Spotlight Education, the Trust’s flagship education program that engages Minnesota high schools and students in the performing arts and UMD Theatre Scholarships for students enrolled in the UMD Theatre program.

On Sunday, March 12, the actors, directors, and writers gathered in the evening at the Pantages. The actors presented some of their personal props (hence the rubber bunny duckies from Busfield and Gilbert) to inspire the writers.

The writers then spent from midnight on writing their scripts. Monday morning, the directors choose the play they want to direct, then rehearsals begin and take place throughout the day.

The performances will be at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $49 and are available at the State Theatre Box Office (805 Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis), by calling (800) 982-2787 or online at
In addition to Gilbert and Busfield, the star-studded cast also includes stage and screen actors with Minnesota ties.  Justin Kirk (“APB”/Fox, “Weeds”/Showtime, “Angels in America”/HBO) moved to Minnesota when he was 12 years old and appeared in productions at Children’s Theatre Company. Devin Kelley (“Frequency”/The CW, “Resurrection”/ABC) began acting and singing as a child and graduated from Eastview High School in Apple Valley. Ryan McCartan (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again”/FOX) was born and raised in Minnesota and participated in the Spotlight Education program when he attended Minnetonka High School.


About Sheree Curry

Sheree R. Curry is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in major publications from the Wall Street Journal to the Jerusalem Post. She is a member of the Jews of Color Minnesota organization, and lives in Maple Grove with her two sons. You can also find her at

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