‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Melissa Gilbert Opens Up About New Role

by Taylor Cunningham

Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert is gearing up for her new play When Harry Met Rehab. And she’s excited to work on a project that is so different from her past roles.

Melissa Gilbert and Fraiser’s Dan Butler are starring in When Harry Met Rehab, which premieres at the Greenhouse Theater in Chicago this month. The play centers around the struggle with addiction and is loosely based on Chicago sports radio personality Harry Teinowitz’s real-life experiences.

Gilbert is playing Barb, a rehab therapist and former magician, who is recovering from a heroin addiction herself. And Barb is tasked with helping Dan Butler’s character overcome alcoholism.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Actress Melissa Gilbert Talks About Starring in a Comedy

Melissa Gilbert’s new role in When Harry Met Rehab is drastically different from her past work in wholesome dramas. And today, the star sat down with Dean Richards on the WGN Morning News to chat about working in an unfamiliar genre.

Melissa Gilbert said she landed a lead in When Harry Met Rehab in the most “basic way.” One of the producers is a “dear friend” of hers, so he called and asked if she’d join the company. And the play is a far cry from her past work on shows like Little House on the Prairie. But she’s thrilled to try something new.

“It’s a really interesting role for me because it’s not something people would normally cast me in,” she told Richards. “Unfortunately, I have not gotten the chance to do a lot of comedy, and this play is a comedy. It does take the issue of rehab and sobriety seriously, but it is a comedy. So for me, this is just a wonderful opportunity. And the company is great. And I so enjoy working with Dan and everyone in the cast.”

Aside from trying something new, Gilbert is also happy to bring such an important topic to the stage. She and Dan Butler both agreed that society is in “deep need” of recovery. But not just with addiction, with mental illness, too. And people need to have a sense of humor while they work through hardships in life.

And Melissa Gilbert believes that the current Covid pandemic makes When Harry Met Rehab even more relevant. With lockdowns and political tensions high, many people need to learn how to both ask for help and offer help because so many are battling painful issues and need to heal.

“The play is a reminder that nobody’s alone and we’re all here, and we’re all in the same boat,” she added. “And we need to support one another. Especially now when people are so divided.”