Paint Your Wagon

Musical by Lerner and Loewe. Musical about the effects of the Californian gold rush on a small community. The show's best-known song, 'Wand'rin Star', was a hit in the 1970's for Lee Marvin, who starred in the film version. The other musical numbers include 'I Talk To The Trees' and 'They Call The Wind Maria'.

1953: West End Premiere at Her Majesty's Theatre

1996: London Revival at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Musical with music by Frederick Loewe and lyrics and book by Alan Jay Lerner. Lerner and Loewe's other London theatre musicals include Gigi, My Fair Lady, and Brigadoon.


1953: West End Premiere with Bobby Howes

Opened 11 February 1953 (no previews), Closed 3 April 1954 at Her Majesty's Theatre

The cast included Bobby Howes as 'Ben Rumson', Sally Ann Howes as 'Jennifer Rumson', Ken Cantril as 'Julio Valveras', Colin Cunningham as 'Salem Trumbull', Desmond Ainsworth as 'Sam', Godfrey Tiffen as 'Dutchie', Gron Davies as 'Johansen', John Auld as 'Rocky', John Sinclair are 'Bill', Joseph Leader as 'Steve Bullnack', Joyce Neale as 'Sarah Woodling', June Grant as 'Elizabeth Woodling', Kenneth Luckman as 'Joe', Kenneth Sandford as 'Sandy Twist', Laurie Payne as 'Jake Whippany', Liam Gaffney as 'Mike Mooney', Lionel Baker as 'Reuben Sloane', Mary Burr as 'Suzanne Duval', Ormonde Douglas as 'Jacob Woodling', Roy Godfrey as 'Edgar Crocker', Shelia O'Neil as 'Yvonne Sorel', and Veit Bethke as 'Pete Billings'.

Directed by Richard Bird, with original choreography by Agnes de Mille, reproduced by Mavis Ray, sets by Oliver Smith, costumes by Motley, and lighting by Alec Shanks.

Prior to London's West End this production, with the same principle cast, was presented at the Oxford New Theatre from Tuesday 2 December to Saturday 13 December 1952; and the Manchester Opera House from Wednesday 17 December 1952 to Saturday 7 February 1953.

Real-life 'father-and-daughter', Bobby Howes and Sally Ann Howes, played the 'father-and-daughter' lead characters, 'Ben Rumson' and 'Jennifer Rumson', in this production - this was the first time that they had appeared together on stage in a musical.

The performance on Monday 25 January 1954 was cancelled to allow for a 45-minute program of excerpts to be broadcast live on BBC Television direct from Her Majesty's Theatre in front of an invited audience.


1996: London Revival with Tony Selby

Previewed 23 July 1996, Opened 26 July 1996, Closed 2 September 1996 (in repertory) at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Ian Talbot directs a major revival of the Lerner and Loewe musical Paint Your Wagon in London for a strictly limited season

The cast featured Tony Selby as 'Ben Rumson', Claire Carrie as 'Jennifer Rumson', Chook Sibtrain as 'Julio Valveras', Catherine Duncan as 'Yvonne Sorel', Ellen O'Grady as 'Cherry', Gavin Muir as 'Salem Trumbull', Gillian Rushton as 'Sarah Woodling'/'Carmelita', Guy Vincent as 'Jake Whippany', John Berlyne as 'Steve Bullnack', John Griffiths as 'Raymond Janney', Jonathan Hart as 'Pete Billings', Kevin A J Ranson as 'Sandy Twist', Liz Izen as 'Elizabeth Woodling', Lucie Florentine as 'Suzanne Duval', Michael G Jones as 'Jacob Woodling', Paul Thornley as 'Mike Mooney', Peter Forbes as 'Edgar Crocker', Philip Fox as 'Reuben Sloane', Sarah Knight as 'Elsie', and Simon Nock as 'Jasper'.

Directed by Ian Talbot, with choreography by Lisa Kent, designs by Paul Farnsworth, lighting by Jason Taylor, and sound by Simon Whitehorn.

Tony Selby's London theatre credits include playing 'the Sergeant' in Jonathan Kent's revival of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children at the Olivier Theatre in 1995.

Gavin Muir's London theatre credits include playing 'Bertie Bassett' in Ian Talbot's revival of the George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin musical Lady, Be Good! at the Open Air Theatre in 1992; and 'Dromio of Ephesus' in Judi Dench's revival of the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical The Boys From Syracuse at the Open Air Theatre in 1991.

John Berlyne's London theatre credits include playing 'Antonio' in Patrick Garland's revival of William Shakespeare's The Tempest at the Open Air Theatre in 1996; the ensemble in the original cast of Trevor Nunn's revised production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Christopher Hampton musical Sunset Boulevard at the Adelphi Theatre in 1994; and 'Walter Bohun QC' in Gillian Lynne's production of the Denis King and Benny Green musical Valentine's Day at the Globe Theatre in 1992.

"The romantic leads easily pass muster. The diminutive Claire Carrie is feisty as Jennifer, whose girlish awakening is rather touching; she's good on her pins too. Her beau, Julio (Chook Sibtain), provides a nice vein of Mexican hauteur, though, as he's two feet taller than his girlfriend, their duet has the air of a Two Ronnies sketch. Not even when the painted ladies hit town do we really believe in the privations of this supposedly authentic portrait of life on the frontier. The bar scenes provide the cue for a bit of naff lass-twirling and the methane-rich company number, Hand Me Down That Can o' Beans... Though not without a rambling charm and the unwashed tang of early Americana, Ian Talbot's production is weak in humour and short on emotional uplift. Whatever its musical qualities and this is a classier musical than many of the Park's revivals as a dramatic experience the evening doesn't hit pay dirt." The Daily Telegraph

"This musical is not the most memorable of those written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe - they went on to give us My Fair Lady and Camelot - and the songs I Talk To The Trees and They Call The Wind Maria would be more at home on a psychiatrist's couch than in Rumson, the gold mining town where the action is set. But the show, a morality tale pointing out that rich dreams do not have to involve money, has great charm and Ian Talbot's delightful production is impeccably played and sung by a cast which includes Tony Selby, playing the role made famous by Lee Marvin in the much-changed movie, and Chook Sibtain, a name to remember. Hitch your wagon to a five-star delight." The News of the World

"Set in the atmosphere of frontier madness and sexual frustration created by the gold rush, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe originally intended the musical to be a caustic portrayal of a defeated American Dream. However, they lashed on to it a bumptious, garish mix of set pieces which include the slurred brothel scene complete with broken bottles and a can-can. The New Shakespeare's open-air production plays the later for all it's worth, but the cynical, despairing undertone isn't entirely forgotten... Yet the play labours on the Broadway clips and Western romanticism, captured in the song Wandrin' Star. Unfortunately, though, the actor based cast is not the best collection of singers." The Daily Express

Paint Your Wagon in London at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park previewed from 23 July 1996, opened on 26 July 1996, and closed on 2 September 1996 (n repertory)