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Young audience members can peek into the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder during a charming production this weekend.

Thanks to Theatre IV, the show "Patchwork -- The Little House Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder" will be presented at 11 a.m. Saturday at The Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University. The production is part of the school's "Especially for Kids" series.

'It's a very positive story," said Eric Williams, director of tour operations for Theatre IV. The company, headquartered in Richmond, Va., has based the Wilder show on the author's humble writings. Wilder chronicled growing up in a pioneering family during the 1800s in her series of "Little House on the Prairie" books.

"So many people read the books and so many remember the "Little House on the Prairie" television show," Williams said. "This show is the only play authorized by the Laura Ingalls Wilder estate."

The tour director said they've focused on following the stories closely and have made sure the production is just as "colorful and vibrant" as the books.

Williams said "Patchwork" depicts "a side of our country (and the pioneering spirit) that's quickly going away from us."

The premise of the play revolves around interesting tales of Ingalls family told through the patchwork quilts they made.

"Each of the quilts is different and relates to a story in her life," he said.

According to Williams, Theatre IV's mission is not only to entertain but educate.

"We're focused on the arts but also education, children's health and community leadership," he said, about the company established in 1975..

With "Patchwork," Williams said they're "taking a piece of history and bringing it to life for kids and their teachers."

Many of the productions in the school's "Especially for Kids" series target toddlers to those 6 or 7 years old. The Wilder production, however, is a play that's perfect for older children 8 to 12 as well.

There are more than 200 works in Theatre IV's repertoire including a show called "The Wright Stuff," about aviation stars The Wright Brothers. The troupe also tackles "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "The Ugly Duckling."

"We want to get kids interested in the arts and get them used to going to the theater," Williams said. Study guides accompany all productions and a question-and-answer period is featured after all Theatre IV shows.

"We hope the audience walks away with a great understanding of the stories (and this time in history) and that they want to go and read the books," he said.

Williams said through "Patchwork," youngsters will learn Laura Ingalls Wilder is "not that far removed from us."

"Patchwork -- The Life and Times of Laura Ingalls Wilder," 11 a.m. Saturday

WHERE: The Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University, 1 University Parkway, University Park

COST: $10.50 to $11.50

FYI: (708) 235-2222 or www.centertickets.net

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