The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts kicked off their 31st season on Wednesday, with the opening of Lerner & Lowe’s Paint Your Wagon. The musical about leaving your life behind to head west in hopes of striking it rich with gold is being presented in collaboration with Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. Billed as a revisal…part revival and part revision. The music and lyrics are true Lerner and Lowe perfection, however the original book written by Allen J. Lerner has been replaced with a new book by John Marans.
After making its world premiere earlier this summer in Seattle, Paint Your Wagon comes to Saint Paul with almost the entire cast intact. Two noticeable exceptions are the roles of Cayla and Angus. These two roles are played by Twin Cities favorites Ann Michels and Dieter Bierbrauer, respectively.
Paint Your Wagon may be set nearly 175 years ago, but the themes featured in the show still ring true today. We discover racial tensions really haven’t changed after all these years. We see how money and greed lead men to do things they never would imagine they were capable of. But we also, see the softer side of civilization. How we as humans, bond together to take care of each other through the roller coaster of life.
As a whole and individually the production is stunning. Lerner and Lowe’s gorgeous and classic songs “Wand’rin Star”, “Another Autumn” and “They Call the Wind Maria” are beautifully directed by Kat Sherrell. Robert Cuccioli’s rendition of “They Call the Wind Maria” is haunting. Josh Rhodes choreography is the best group dancing I’ve seen since Christopher Gattelli’s “Newsies” choreography. The scenic design by Jason Sherwood is amazing. His turntable set offers numerous staging opportunities for director David Armstrong who takes full advantage of it too.
Paint Your Wagon is currently playing in Saint Paul at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. For more information on the show or to purchase tickets, visit their website.