Little House on the Prairie's star is having a good time in Petrolia.

Karen Grassle is happy that the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia called her. Grassle is known for her role as Caroline Ingalls, the mother, on the TV show Little House on the Prairie.

 From July 5 to July 24, she will play Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond at the playhouse, filling in for Michael Learned, who played the mother on the TV show The Waltons.

On the day before rehearsals, Learned fell and broke her arm, so the playhouse had to find someone to fill the role quickly.

"It's such a great play and a great part," Grassle said Wednesday while taking a break from rehearsals. "I've never played it in my 60 years in theater."

"I had to learn everything, which has been very hard," she said

She didn't have much time to make plans to travel from her home near San Francisco to Petrolia for rehearsals, but she said, "I wanted to make it work."

"I was so happy that I was going to be in a play again."

She turned 80 in February, and Grassle said that because of the pandemic, she didn't know if it was her last time on stage or not.

On Golden Pond was written by Ernest Thompson. It opened on Broadway in 1979, and in 1981, Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn played Ethel and Norman Thayer, an older couple who spend their summers at a lake house.

Walter Borden plays Norman. He is a veteran of the Stratford Festival and a member of the Order of Canada. Grassle said that the cast is made up of "some really great people." Kelli Fox, Brian Belleth, Kent Sheridan, and Noah Leonard are among them.

Grassle said of Ethel Thayer, "I think everyone in the audience can relate to her because she's always trying to make things nice."

"She worries about her getting older husband. It works for everyone."

In the play, Ethel also has a good sense of humor that is both "extremely funny" and important.

She said, "This play is so well written." "It's been popular for almost 50 years."

Grassle started acting when he was young and then went to college at the University of California, Berkeley, in the early 1960s.

She said, "I quit school and went to work as an apprentice at a theater in San Francisco. After that, I never looked back." "Every summer, I went all out at a Shakespeare festival or a modern drama festival."

She got a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and in 1969, The Gingham Dog was her first show on Broadway.

In 1974, she was chosen to play the mother on the popular U.S. TV show Little House on the Prairie, a role she kept for eight years.

After that, she worked in TV, movies, and on stage before moving to the San Francisco Bay area more than a decade ago.

Bright Lights, Prairie Dust, her book about her life, came out in November.

Grassle said that when she moved back to the area where she grew up, "the memories just started to flow."

She started writing them down and joined a group of other writers from the memoir class she took. They've been getting together for the past 11 years.

She said that writing the book was a very healing experience that helped her deal with a lot of things in her life. "Really, it was a blessing." She found out after the book came out how much people liked her character on Little House on the Prairie.

She said, "Their hearts were just made for her, and I had no idea."

Grassle said that during the eight seasons of the show, when they worked 12-hour days, she didn't really feel like she was famous.

"All I knew was work, eat, sleep," she said, adding that she was grateful for the chance.

It's stressful and tiring, and Grassle thinks that's why so many Hollywood actors use drugs or alcohol to feel better.

"My family and I all had problems with drinking, so I had inherited that tendency," she said. "I had to go through that while I was on TV playing a nice lady."

Grassle said that her fame did give her a chance to speak up for women, and that "it was great" to have that voice.

While she is busy with rehearsals in Petrolia, things are hard politically and socially in her home country. The recent Supreme Court decision on abortion is just one example.

"It's heartbreaking because we worked so hard for women to have choices," Grassle said, adding that it's important to stay hopeful.

She said, "We can't let ourselves be beaten down, give up, or get too down on ourselves."

Even though Canada Day is on Friday, Grassle said that opening night is coming up quickly, so she and the other cast members will be practicing while the rest of Petrolia is having fun.

She is still hoping that they will be able to plan a break around the celebrations.

She said, "I'd love to see the parade."

She said that Petrolia is "wonderful." "It's so easy to get to and quiet."

Information about Victoria Playhouse Petrolia's summer season in 2022 is available online at and by calling 1-800-717-7694 to reach the box office.


Post a Comment


Close Menu