This past week, I had the privilege of chatting with our beloved local Ann Michels. Not sure who I’m talking about? That’s okay. We are busy parents and are lucky to be able to watch a show without falling asleep halfway through it.
She currently is playing Babette the Feather Duster in Beauty & the Beast at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre and will be leaving the show early to play Cayla in Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon.
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Ann Michels and I go way back. I’m being absolutely serious. We knew each other from over 20 years ago.
She was a 7th grade English teacher in my hometown of Morris, Minnesota, and I was a high school senior. As a shining-faced new teacher, she choreographed a passel of high schoolers and middle schoolers in The Wiz. And there I was–front and center singing “Ease on down, ease on down the road.” It was the one and only time someone has ever (EVER) used me as an example for dancing. And it will probably be my last!
But I digress.
Not only did Ann and I reminisce about days past (“I do remember you,” she insisted and I believed her), but we chatted about the coming of Paint Your Wagon.
Lerner and Loewe were a mid-century composing duo like Rodgers and Hammerstein, but this musical about the California Gold Rush was never as well-known as Camelot or My Fair Lady (by the same composers).
According to Ann, 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle, Washington is famous for introducing new shows that frequently make their way to Broadway. In the case of Paint Your Wagon, 5th Ave. revived this 1951 production by updating the songs and rewriting the story. It is less dated and more easily relatable. And fun!
5th Avenue Theater is bringing Paint Your Wagon to the Ordway as a co-production between the two powerhouses. In Seattle the role of Cayla is played by Kendra Kassebaum. During the Ordway’s run of the show, she will be on Broadway working on a new production (Come From Away), and our own talented Ann will be filling in as the leading lady (honestly, did I just say that? Is that even politically correct?).
Other local actors will be filling needed roles including Dieter Bierbrauer, but much of the cast will be from the original production in Washington.
This play is not for the very young, but with engaging music, gorgeous costumes, and unexpected humor it is appropriate for kids in third grade and older.
“It’s very relevant to our current culture,” Ann said. Timeless themes include racism and slavery. The audience will be learning about a historical period all while they are being entertained.
5 Fun Facts about Paint Your Wagon
- Robert Cuccioli (from Broadway’s Jekyll and Hyde) plays Ben Rumson. Read: he’s famous!
- It touches on discrimination against many different cultures.
- Clint Eastwood is in the film version.
- The play is follows the story of a Mormon man and his wives.
- Ann begins rehearsal on August 2 and will be ready to perform by August 9.
“You will laugh, be moved, and learn. What else can you ask for in a show?”
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