‘Love Comes Softly’ musical will be at First Lutheran Church Saturday

Published 8:18 am Saturday, June 21, 2008

A musical based on Janette Oke’s best-selling novel “Love Comes Softly” will be presented at First Lutheran Church in Albert Lea starting Saturday.

The musical, which was written in 1992 by composer and director Toby Waldowski, is a Midwest pioneer story about two couples who came to the area to homestead their land.

When the wife of the first couple dies from a ruptured appendix, the husband is left alone with a young daughter.

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Then, after the husband of the second couple dies after a horse accident, the wife is left stranded in a covered wagon.

Left with no other options, the woman accepts the marriage proposal of the widowed man. He offers her a place to stay for the winter and fare to head back East in the spring in exchange for watching after his young daughter.

At first the two do not get along — as the man is a devout Christian and the woman is not — but as time passes, they realize they have fallen in love.

“It’s ultimately a story of tremendous courage and perseverance and faith,” Waldowski said. “They ultimately find out what true love really is.”

Waldowski wrote the theater musical after he read Oke’s novel in 1991 and felt compelled to do so.

“It’s a really remarkable story,” he said. “It’s very unique and very unusual.”

He brought the musical to the stage in 2003 and has since conducted 84 performances of it throughout the United States and Canada. In 2006, he traveled to Alberta, Canada, to co-produce the musical at Oke’s home church.

There have now been more than 11,000 people who have seen it on stage.

Waldowski said the plot of Oke’s novel is based off a story the author heard from her grandmother as a young child.

The musical features five principle actors, along with a chorus and townspeople.

The cast is made up of students from Northwestern College in Roseville and people from King of Kings Lutheran Church in Woodbury.

The musical made its Minnesota premiere in May.

“We decided we would take it on tour to see if there was interest,” Waldowski said.

The Rev. John Holt of First Lutheran Church asked the composer to bring the play to Albert Lea.

The musical will be presented nightly on June 28 and 29 beginning at 7 p.m. There will also be an afternoon showing on June 29 at 2:30 p.m.

Waldowski — who graduated from South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., with a music major — was a featured soloist on Robert Schuller’s “Hour of Power” program with his wife, Barb, for 20 years.

The couple has recorded 11 albums, given more than 4,000 concerts and were guest soloists in two Bill Graham crusades.

Waldowski’s song, “South Dakota My Home,” was sung at the 50th anniversary of the Mount Rushmore Memorial in 1992.

If you go

“Love Comes Softly”

Where: First Lutheran Church, 301 W. Clark St., Albert Lea

When: June 28 and 29 at 7 p.m.; June 29 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets: $10 for adults; $5 for children 12 and under. For $20 on June 28, a steak dinner beginning at 6 p.m. is included with the show.

Information: Tickets are available by calling (651) 528-6110. They can also be purchased at the door. Advance tickets for the steak dinner required by Wednesday. Phone 373-6424 for reservations.