Paint Your Wagon opened on Broadway sixty years ago today and managed a run of just over 8 months or 289 performances. Set in the Gold Rush California years of the 1850's, I'm not exactly sure why it didn't run longer than it did as it has an interesting plot and the Lerner and Loewe score does have several nice songs. Now, the story is set in a town with only one woman who happens to be a 16 year old girl who doesn't quite understand why she is getting so much attention from the hundreds of men in town. The men basically tell her father that if he doesn't get her to leave town they can't be responsible for their actions. She falls in love with a young Mexican man which of course her father doesn't approve of so he sends her away. Add to this a Mormon man with two wives who basically auctions one of his wives off to the highest bidder and a bevy of women "entertainers" who show up at the end of act one to "entertain" the men and you can see how you don't exactly have a kind of show that would seem to appeal to the tourist crowd, especially in 1951. Maybe that is why it didn't run longer than it did.
|Olga San Juan, James Barton and Tony Bavaar|
|Burl Ives and Nola Fairbanks as Ben|
and Jenniger in the National Tour of the show
18 years later the show was turned into a movie musical that starred Lee Marvin and Cint Eastwood. For the film Marvin played Ben but the plot was changed drastically with the elimination of the part of Jennifer and the Mexican character of Julio becoming a white man who was a partner of Marvin's and played by Eastwood. The female character of Elizabeth, the Mormon wife who is auctioned off to Ben is the same in the movie but she is now also in love with the Eastwood character.
Happy 60th Birthday Paint Your Wagon!
Harve Presnell sings "They Call the Wind Maria" - from the movie:
Clint Eastwood - "I Talk to the Trees" - from the movie:
Lee Marvin- "Wandrin' Star" - from the movie:
Opening sequence of the show from the Arizona Light Opera Company's production:
Simpson's spoof of the movie: