By Susan C. Hunter and Tom Shelton
Based on the novel by Carol Ryrie Brink

In 1935 Carol Ryrie Brink wrote the Newbery-award winning novel, CADDIE WOODLAWN, based on the childhood of her grandmother, Caroline Woodhouse. She had collected the stories that her grandmother had often recounted of her adventures as a pioneer child settling the wilderness of Wisconsin in the mid 1800’

Carol Ryrie Brink's Newberry award-winning novel Caddie Woodlawn has been brought to exuberant life as a musical. Caddie (the iconic, high-spirited Wisconsin pioneer girl beloved by generations of readers) leads her willing siblings in a series of thrilling adventures, not always with the approval of her traditional Bostonian mother. Her father, however, encourages her antics, that she might thrive amidst the new, tougher ways of the west.

Caddie Woodlawn a Musical Drama is written to be performed by any size theatre group.

With full casting there are roles for 8 adult men, 7 adult women and 18 children of various ages. With doubling and tripling of roles the possibilities are endless. There is also a 1 hour cut, for 8 actors to serve the needs of Theatre for Young Audiences.

The Story

Songs in parentheses


A lonely hillside in Wisconsin. The stage comes alive with a barn raising. (Wisconsin Welcome) The WOODLAWNS, appear, freshly arrived from Boston. In the midst of the excitement, young CADDIE is scolded by her mother for her unladylike behavior. When a group of Native Americans, led by INDIAN JOHN, enter, the family is afraid, but MR WOODLAND, father, welcomes them and agrees to repair their rifles. CADDIE and INDIAN JOHN become friends, bonding over her flaming red hair.

Tragedy strikes the family when baby MARY dies. (Graveyard Hymn) Overcome with grief MRS WOODLAWN agrees to allow CADDIE to live an outdoor tomboy existence in an attempt to make her healthy enough to survive the rigors of pioneer life.

As the years pass CADDIE and her brothers TOM and WARREN become inseparable chums and fellow tricksters. (We Are We) They even manage to torment their refined cousin ANNABELLE, (Quaint and Rustic) Until ANNABELLE turns the table on them with a few tricks of her own.


An important letter arrives informing MR WOODLAWN that he is heir to an estate, with one caveat: he has to renounce his American citizenship and move to England (Breeches and Clogs). As the family ponders whether to leave Wisconsin, a new crisis arrives with the news that the Indians are planning to massacre the local settlers. MR WOODLAWN, even though he thinks it is a ,”tavern rumor” agrees to allow all the settlers under his roof until the scare is over. (Waiting)

CADDIE overhears one of the settlers plotting to kill the Indians. She saddles her horse to warn the tribe. Indian John returns with her and assures MR WOODLAWN that there is no danger. One of the settler threatens to kill the chief until MRS WOODLAWN bravely intervenes.

The scare is over but MRS WOODLAWN scolds CADDIE furiously for taking matters into her own hands at peril of her life. The argument escalates and CADDIE runs away from home. A stop at MARY’S grave provides CADDIE with time to think and understand her mothers position. (A Change in the Wind)

The family votes to stay in Wisconsin and brave the wilderness. MRS WOODLAWN and CADDIE reconcile. The family looks forward to becoming part of the tapestry that is Wisconsin (Wisconsin Welcome reprise for bows)


Leading Roles include:

Musical Numbers

  1. Wisconsin Welcome
  2. Wisconsin Anthem
  3. Graveside Hymn
  4. We Are We
  5. Tom's Tall Tale
  6. The Oath
  7. Quaint and Rustic
  8. The City of Boston
  9. Breeches and Clogs
  10. Waiting
  11. O'Grady's Fiddle
  12. A Change in The Wind
  13. Paddy's Lament
  14. Epilogue

Caddie Woodlawn - A Musical Drama