Melissa Gilbert Digging New Small Town Roles

Known best for her role as “Half-Pint” on the 1970s/1980s-era Little House on the Prairie dramatic series, Melissa Gilbert and her new husband, Timothy Busfield of Thirtysomething fame, recently made news for moving to the tiny rural town of Howell, Michigan.

But just because they’re living out in the country now doesn’t mean they’ve stopped bringing their Hollywood ways to the masses. Nearly a year after moving in last August, Gilbert and Busfield were spotted this week appearing with advanced drama students at Howell High School in an interview resembling an Inside the Actors Studio taping about the thespian trade. The actors shared tips on auditioning, as well as a glimpse into the much-mythologized star-making process.

Senior Cassie Bondie marveled to Livingston Daily about how available Busfield and Gilbert made themselves to the students: “Melissa and Tim were approachable, kind and honest about what the career of an actor or director is really like. I think it’s incredibly fortunate that we have them as resources and supporters in our community and that they’re so willing to be involved in the local high school.”

The couple seems to really be taking to the everybody-knows-your-neighbor vibe. In March, Gilbert visited elementary schools in the Howell public school system to read her best-selling children’s book, Daisy and Josephine. And the local theater group at Totem Poole Playhouse just announced that their kickoff show this season, Steel Magnolias, will star Gilbert in the lead role of M’Lynn, a role Gilbert says will require her to do lots of drying and crying (In case you have never seen the film or play, M’Lynn owns a home based beauty salon).

“It was just perfect,”Gilbert said about the role being available. “A perfect time at a perfect place…. a blessing to be part of something that is so beloved. That show evokes nothing but happy memories. I get a lot of hugs from strangers.”

Coincidentally, Gilbert auditioned unsuccessfully for the 1989 movie version of Steel Magnolias, so, she added, “Everything works in exactly the way it’s supposed to.”

The show opens tomorrow night, May 30. Gilbert couldn’t contain her excitement when she just tweeted:

Director Rowan Joseph couldn’t contain how excited he was to have some star power on the marquee: “We are so fortunate to have Melissa here.”

It seems that Gilbert, far from her days as president of the Screen Actors Guild, is reveling in the change of scenery too.

[Image courtesy of Livingston Daily]