Paint Your Wagon

There was a time when Americans thought their frontiers endless (that is, if one didn't consider the Native Americans that were being displaced), and it should be said that these transplanted Europeans, with a taste for the wide-open spaces and a yearning for gold, showed a remarkable spirit in leaving behind the religious and political persecutions of the continent and setting sail for the New World. For folks used to city streets, mercantile establishments, and other accoutrements of civilization, the wilderness was no easy haul. In Boulder's Dinner Theatre current production of Lerner and Loewe's Paint Your Wagon, much of what is endearing from this time period has been tastefully captured and brought to life.

Despite his crusty exterior and testy manner, Ben Rumson is a shrewd miner with a heart of gold and a case of terminal wanderlust. A widower, he drifts into Northern California just after the 49er's with his young daughter in tow, and stakes a claim that allows him to found a town and build his equity. Calling on his impeccable timing, quick wit, and lawless charm, A.K. Klimpke has a ball with the irascible, yet somehow endearing Ben. Klimpke croons his way through "Wand'rin' Star" and "They Call the Wind Maria" while high stepping it with assorted town folk and a wagon load of honeys called the "Fandangos."

Annaleigh Swanson is Jennifer Rumson, Ben's fetching daughter, who has great fun playing on her youthful innocence in the company of a rough crew of sex-starved laborers while belting out "What's Goin' on Here?", before she is charmed by Julio Valveras, the handsome mellow tenor, Michael D. Chavez. Both Swanson and Chavez, turn in moving renditions of "I Talk to the Trees."

As always, the ensemble work is impeccable and Neal Dunfee's small orchestra hits the spot. Boulder's Dinner Theatre's production of Paint Your Wagon runs through October 13th. 303-449-6000.

Bob Bows


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