WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     Walnut grove — After the last pageant season the Wilder Pageant Committee was faced with the task of naming a new director after Bill Richards resigned the post after serving the past few years. Richard felt it was time for him to take a break.

    After consideration the committee offered the job to former Walnut Grove graduate Dan Wahl who is currently teaching ESL at Tracy Area High School.

    While Wahl was born in Slayton, he grew up mostly in the Walnut Grove area and graduated from Walnut Grove High School in 1984. Wahl received his Bachelors degree from SMSU in Creative Writing, He then got his Masters in Creative Writing from MSU. He is currently working on his Secondary Language Arts degree at SWU.

    Wahl’s interest in the Wilder Pageant goes back to the first performance in the high school gym in 1978. He was just 13 years old at the time and noted, “I was just getting interested  in doing my own creative thing,” he said. He recalls marveling at how the staging was done, expanding it beyond the regular stage — today he says, it is much the same with the current staging at the pageant site.

    Wahl mentioned that he had seen the pageant many times over the course of the past years. He had never had a  part in the pageant until last year when  he handled the chores of Lighting Tech,  which was his first real big connection. However Wahl is no stranger to the stage having participating in several small productions.

    People locally might remember him for his part playing Tevye, the lead in Westbrook’s community production of Fiddler on the Roof several years ago.

    Wahl says, what’s nice about directing  the pageant is it is not a one person show. “I am awed by all the volunteer work that goes into the pageant.”

    Wahl noted, Bill Richards, Erin Richards and Errol Steffen all have a lot of experience to draw from. These  people have a lot of experience in pulling this off — “it isn’t just me by a long shot!”

    Auditions were fantastic, there was a good turnout for both days, about 55 people tried out for parts, including a number of youngsters. Wahl said, “we had some  new people try out and in one case an entire family that had not been in the production before. We have a new Reverend Alden, and Doc Hoyt this year,” he said.

    Even though some of the parts are small in status, Wahl says, every role is important, the production needs everybody to make it work.

    Wahl has concluded casting the parts, and the cast list will be printed at the end of this story.

    May 3 the cast will gather for cast pictures at the pageant site. On June 9 the cast will begin blocking in the Walnut Grove gym.

    His assistant, Erin  Richards, has a few years of assisting with the production,  and  Wahl is happy to be able to tap from  her experience. Richards is really into genealogy and is checking out original family names of some  of the characters in local cemeteries. There has been a lot of focus the past few years on making the pageant  as historically accurate as possible.

    Wahl says he feels his growing up as a native of the prairie gives him a better perspective to direct the pageant.

    He is looking forward to the challenge of getting this production to the same level as in past years.

    In the past Bill  Richards has really set the stage and  high standards for the production. “I am hopeful that I can approach the same  level of competence in producing this year’s production,” Wahl  said.

    He also emphasized how all of the volunteers that help with everything from tickets sales,  to stage hands  are very important to the success of the pageant.

    “I am really  excited about getting to work with the cast in June,” he said.

    Wahl currently lives in Walnut Grove with his wife Sara,  He has three grown children from his previous marriage. Son Ezekial Blue and twin  daughters Sirocco Gold,  and Savanna Silver.

    2014 Wilder Cast list

    Heidi Morgan - Old Laura Ingalls

    Errol  Steffen - Mr. Charles Ingalls

    Kari Vaupel - Mrs. Caroline Ingalls

    Hallie Landuyt - Carrie Ingalls

    Tara Roberts - Laura Ingalls

    Lynnea Asp - Mary Ingalls

    Daryl Hrdlicka - Dr. Robert Hoyt

    Teri Herder-Blahnik - Mrs. Myra Hoyt

    Nicole Baker - Jesse Hoyt

    Jake Hicks - Country Doctor’s Assistant

    Nancy Weinzetl - Aunt Docia Forbes

(first Bedal family)

    Bryan Haen - Mr. Elias  Bedal

    Wendy Rogotzke - Mrs. Maria Bedal

    Jayden Haen - Marshall Bedal

    Daniel Haen - James Bedal

    Adam Hicks - Sylvester Bedal

    Mallorie Hicks - Lucy Bedal

    Mariah Hicks - Clara Bedal

    Matt Coleman - Mr. Eleck Nelson

    Cindy Prins - Mrs. Olena Nelson

    Kaylee Prins - Mary Nelson

    Daniel DeSmith - Hjalmer Nelson

    Andrew Blahnik - Frederick Nelson

    Miranda Ankrum - Julia Nelson

    Alexandra Kielas - Anna Nelson

    Brittney Brommel - Mathilda Nelson

    Carter Prins - Samuel Nelson

    Corey Prins - Reverend  Alden

    Haaken Asp - Johnny Johnson

    Logan  Weinzetl    - Clarence Spurr

    Kyle Asp - Mr. James Kennedy

    Jodi Haen - Mrs. Margaret Kennedy

    Jack Hrdlicka - Edwin Kennedy

    Mercedies Hicks - Anna Kennedy

    Mariah Soleta - Catherine Kennedy

    Kianna Prins - Christy Kennedy

    Kaylee Campbell - Elizabeth Kennedy

    Alex Hrdlicka - Daniel Kennedy

    Stacy Hanson - Nettie Kennedy

    Makenna Takle - Cassie Kennedy

    Samantha "Sami" Ward - Alexander “Sandy” Kennedy

    Thomas Knudson - Mr. William Oleson

    Julie Danielowski - Mrs. Margaret Oleson

    Lauren Frommelt    - Nellie Oleson

    Orion Knakmuhs - Willie Oleson

    Jake Hicks - Mr. Hanson

    Beth Ann Danielowski - Mrs. Hanson

    Tiffany Holmes - Mrs. Mary Steadman

    Lowell Highby - Mr. Amasa Tower

    Nancy Weinzetl - Mrs. Julie Tower

    Norma  Raymond - Mrs. Luperla Ensign

    Eva Smith - Carrie Ensign

    Callie Smith - Anna Ensign

    Madelynne Hicks    - Lily Ensign

(2nd Bedal family)

    Nathan Olsem - Mr. Lafayette Bedal

    Beth Ann Danielowski - Mrs. Bedal

    Cora Ourada - Eva Bedal

    Danika Radke - Grace Bedal