When you wake up singing one of the songs from a musical, you know it has registered in your deep musical memory. This morning, I woke up with “I Was Born Under a Wand’rin’ Star” ringing in my head and Rory with “Maria” in his. These two wonderful songs are from a Lerner and Loewe show, Paint Your Wagon, you may not know and which is rarely performed in New York and I don’t know why.(nytimes.com) The score to this gold rush musical is lovely with no fewer than four great songs, including the above two, “I Talk to the Trees,” and the title song, plus many other singable, danceable tunes. The plot is irrelevant.
(sepiarecords.com) Lerner and Loewe wrote the show in 1951 after Brigadoon (1947) and before My Fair Lady (1956. As per its mission, Encores! used the original orchestrations by Ted Royal but didn’t use the original choreography by Agnes de Mille, possibly because only the front part of the stage is available for dance. But the new choreography was terrific and the singing, performed by a dozen full-voiced baritones was spectacular.
The starring roles were covered by Keith Carridine as Rumson–surprisingly good, even in his creaky voice, Alexandra Socha (citycenter.org) and Justin Guarini, very fine as the young lovers, and a great Nathaniel Hackman, who knocked the showstopper “Maria” out of the park. (broadway.com) As always, the band is on stage and what a pleasure it is to listen to a full orchestra of acoustical instruments.
The show’s finale is based on “I Was Born Under a Wand’rin’ Star,” and it was glorious, although I do admit to waiting until the very last note of the orchestra playing us out to hear “Maria” again. It didn’t happen.
It is rare that you hear music and lyrics this good and you should rush to hear them. There are a few more performances this weekend, this afternoon and evening and tomorrow afternoon and evening. If you can possibly go, try not to miss it.