Paint Your Wagon is a story about the
discovery of gold by Jennifer (Barbara Traynor), the 16-year old, uneducated daughter of Ben
Rumson (Alan Lupi) while running her hands through the dirt in the Californian Hills of
1853. News travels fast and prospectors from all around rush to Rumson Creek to
make their fortune. As the only woman around, Jennifer has to deal with
many lonely and frustrated gold miners, but eventually strikes up a close
friendship with a Mexican called Julio (Allan Malamy, '59). Ben realizes that Jennifer is not
such a "little girl" anymore and decides it is time for her to leave
on the next eastbound coach to be educated. Jacob (Jay Plotkin, '61), a middle-aged Mormon,
arrives at Rumson Creek and is only allowed to stay on the condition that he
auctions one of his two wives. After some deliberation he agrees, and one
of the wives, Elizabeth (Carol Spadanuta, '59), is sold to Ben, much to Jennifer's disgust, and she packs her bags and
runs to Julio's cabin in the mountains.
Jennifer eventually decides to go east to school and to return when Julio has
made his fortune. Jake (Russell Johnson, '59), a miner in his 30s, makes some money, builds a
music hall and consequently sends for his wife, Cherry (Marianne Stewart, '59).
Cherry brings a wagonload of fandango dancerswith her ―
much to the prospectors’ delight! Soon the gold begins to run out, and
the men pack up slowly and leave. Jennifer returns, unexpectedly,
intending to marry Julio, but she later learns that he has left for the
mountains in search of gold. (She is now very noticeably a more mature
young lady!) News that gold has been struck forty miles away heralds a new
gold rush, although Ben decides he cannot leave Rumson Creek. The story
ends when Julio returns, by chance, and Jennifer runs into his arms!
The most memorable songs in the show are "I Talk To the Trees" and
"They Call the Wind Maria."