City Center Encores! Presents Keith Carradine in Lerner and Loewe’s
Paint Your Wagon
By: Ellis Nassour
Keith Carradine stars in Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon, the second production of City Center’s 2015 Encores! season, running for seven performances, March 18 – 22. The 1951 musical, which has never been revived, was a rousing adventure and love story set against the mad Northern California Gold Rush of 1853 and prospector Ben Rumson, along with daughter Jennifer, dreaming of striking the mother lode.
Carradine’s Broadway credits include Hands on a Hardbody (Tony, Drama Desk nominations), Foxfire (Outer Critics Circle Award), and The Will Rogers Follies (Tony and DD nominations). He can currently be seen in the CBS hit drama Madame Secretary as the President of the United States. His many film credits include Nashville, in which he sings "I’m Easy," which won him the Oscar for Best Song. [Carradine, also a Grammy and Emmy nominee, is the son of legendary actor John Carradine and father of Martha Plimpton.]
Also headlining Paint Your Wagon‘s 30-plus cast are Alexandra Socha (Spring Awakening, A Little Night Music revival) as daughter Jenny, Justin Guarini (2013 Romeo and Juliet; Wicked Flyero; Season One American Idol runner-up) as Juilio, Nathaniel Hackmann (2014 Les Miz revival, and who’s played Jean Valjean and Javert) as Steve, and Drama Desk nominee Melissa van der Schyff (Bonnie and Clyde) as Sarah.
Among the featured cast are Jenni Barber (The Nance, a former Wicked Glinda), Robert Creighton (Roundabout revivals The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Anything Goes), Caleb Damschroder (2014 Cabaret revival, sometimes as Emcee), Robyn Hurder (Nice Work If You Can Get It, 2007 Grease), Kevin Munhall (Anything Goes), Scott Wakefield (Texas in Paris, Hands…Hardbody, Ring of Fire),William Youmans (Hands…Hardbody, Finian’s Rainbow, Billy Elliot, Wicked, La Boheme); and as the Fandango Ladies: Darien Crago, Shonica Gooden, Melissa Hunter McCann, and Kristin Piro.
Songs include "They Call the Wind Maria," "I Talk to the Trees," the love duet "How Can I Wait," "All for Him," "Carino Mio," "(I Was Born Under a) Wand’rin’ Star," and the rousing showstopper "Hand Me Down that Can ‘o Beans."
Directing is Marc Bruni (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), with choreographer by Denis Jones (Honeymoon in Vegas, Piece of My Heart. Music directing the 30-pluse member Encores! orchestra is Rob Berman, now in his eighth season with the concert series.
Paint Your Wagon opened at the Shubert in November 1951, boasting choreography by none other than the acclaimed Agnes DeMille, and ran for 289 performances [in 1953, it played the West End]. It starred James Barton, a notable Broadway leading man from the 30s to the late 50s, as Ben. He made a huge impact as Hickey in the Broadway premiere of O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh. The show marked the Broadway debut of Brooklyn’s Olga San Juan as Jennifer. Co-starring was dancer, choreographer James Mitchell. In featured roles were future Tony nominee Kay Medford [Funny Girl], Tony and DD winner John Randolph [Broadway Bound], who was featured in numerous films and who later returned to Broadway in Prelude to a Kiss; and Rufus Smith (On the 20th Century, The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N, 1966 Annie Get Your Gun revival) singing "They Call the Wind Maria."
The musical was San Juan’s only Broadway show. She began her career singing and dancing as part of Tito Puente’s band. San Juan went on to make a big name in films, nicknamed the "Puerto Rican Pepper Pot," who spoke in fractured English language much as Carmen Miranda did. She starred with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Donald O’Connor, and Alan Ladd.
South Pacific director Joshua Logan did the film adaption [until being fired over budget issues], starring Lee Marvin [drunk throughout much of the filming], Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg, and Harve Presnell. The screenplay, by none other than the legendary Paddy Chayefsky, was radically changed from the stage version – Jennifer becomes a wife named Elizabeth, who’s sold to Marvin and Eastwood [as Pardner, instead of Julio], who share her while up to shady exploits. Some of the stage score was dropped, and André Previn and Lerner added new tunes. Marvin and Eastwood did their own "singing." Seberg was dubbed. The film opened to not exactly ecstatic reviews and was a box office bomb.
Support for Encores! is provided by Stacey and Eric Mindich, Nathalie and Pablo Salame, the Shubert Foundation, Margot and John Ernst, and the Stephanie and Fred Shuman Fund.
Paint Your Wagon performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 P.M., Friday at 8, Saturday at 2 and 8, and Sunday and 2 and 7. Tickets start are $30-$130 and available at the City Center box office, through CityTix at (212) 581-1212, and online at www.NYCityCenter.org.
Click Here to see Video of Paint Your Wagon