Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Keith Carradine hoists a glass in Paint Your Wagon
PAINT YOUR WAGON. City Center Encores; Manhattan. Live. March 19, 2015.

First, let me make it clear that this is the stage musical "Paint Your Wagon" and not the awful film adaptation that had Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin croaking out songs, and which has a completely different (and stupid) plot from the Lerner and Loewe musical. In the show, Ben Rumson (Keith Carradine) is a grizzled prospector hoping for a gold strike while living in a ramshackle town where his daughter, Jennifer (Alexandra Socha), is the only woman. Eventually more women of "ill repute" show up in town, while Ben buys a Mormon woman from her first husband, and Jennifer goes east to school pining for her Mexican lover, Julio (Justin Guarini). She returns only to find that Julio has gone off again and nobody knows quite where he is. Will these two lovers be reunited despite the fact that this is decades before cell phones, ipads, fast planes and the Internet? "Paint Your Wagon" has an interesting book and some wonderful music, with the tunes including "I Talk to the Trees;" "They Call the Wind Maria;" and "Another Autumn;" as well as several rousing numbers, including "I'm On My Way" (which could have used more dancing). Carradine makes an effective leading man. He hasn't got a great voice by any means, but he gets the songs across without any problem. Guarini, formerly of American Idol, also does a very nice job with both his acting and singing, and Socha is charming as Jennifer. She has perhaps more of a pop style than a Broadway style, but somehow that isn't a distraction. Nathaniel Hackmann as a prospector named Steve is handed one of the show's most beautiful numbers, the aforementioned "Maria," and while he has a very nice voice -- and the song is great -- it didn't quite knock my socks off like it should have; maybe his interpretation wasn't quite dramatic enough. There's some wonderful dancing in the show, the orchestra is fine, and the whole production -- presented by Encores at City Center -- is pretty much outstanding.

Verdict: Excellent revival of a time-lost Broadway classic. ***1/2.


angelman66 said...

Keith Carradine!! Cool...I've always loved him. Glad to hear he's still singing, too; I've always loved his song "I'm Easy" from Robert Altman's Nashville. Nice to hear they're still doing old-fashioned, rousing revivals of classic musicals in NYC.

angelman66 said...

....and I am also a fan of Guarini--thought he was dreamy back in the day. Glad he received good notices for his performance from you, too!

William said...

Yes, City Center's Encores does three musicals per year, and they are usually outstanding. Guarini looks better now than he did in his "Idol" days, successfully reinventing himself, so to speak. Carradine doesn't really have what you might call a Broadway-type voice, but he manages to get it across anyway.