Photos by Jeff Carpenter
Taryn Darr of North Ballard has a role as the Mormon wife, Sara, in the first act and a saloon girl in the second of the 5th Avenue Theatre’s rendition of “Paint Your Wagon.”

Local performer has part in 5th Avenue Theatre’s ‘Paint Your Wagon’

A Ballard woman has a role in the 5th Avenue Theatre’s new production “Paint Your Wagon."

The 5th will be offering a new rendition of Lerner and Loewe's 1951 “Paint Your Wagon, ” a story about love during the California Gold Rush.

Taryn Darr of North Ballard has a role as the Mormon wife, Sara, in the first act and a saloon girl in the second.

The musical tells the story of people migrating to a small mining town during the climax of the California Gold Rush. Directed by Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong, the modern version retains the same score, which includes American Songbook standards such as "The Call The Wind Maria” and "I Talk To The Trees.” However there are some changes in the music that audience will find intriguing. The 5th Avenue Theatre commissioned celebrated writer Jon Marans to create a new book for the show, and Seattle audiences will be the first ever see this new version of a classic musical adventure. There are 25 cast members, including Robert Cuccioli, Kendra Kassebaum and Justin Gregory Lopez. Josh Rhodes is chorographer.

Darr has been involved in the production for the last four years while the show was off the main stage.

“It’s so neat to be part of this for so long and work on a new musical as it takes shape. I had an opportunity to be in the same room as the producers were designing the script, so for an actress it has really been exciting,” Darr.

Darr commented that she had a first hand look at producers organizing the production, such as placing a song in order for the performers to make a costume change.

“There is nothing like working on new work like this, and it’s also very frustrating. We always say don’t get attached: there are always cuts. … It’s really exciting when you’re a part of something that’s been on paper for so long.”

The story follows characters that include Chinese immigrants, an African American slave, a Mexican cook, an Irish immigrant and a fur trapper.

“It approaches the diversity of the Gold Rush with all the people coming from everywhere trying to strike it rich and really tells the story of Seattle in a way… It’s really exciting that its coming to the main stage with a full production.”

Darr’s first show at the 5th was 15 years ago this year. She is originally from Portland, Oregon and graduated from the University of Washington. Darr spent some time in New York City before settling down in Seattle.

“I really love Seattle. I can get dressed up and do a show and get up and go for a hike the next day. … I lived in New York for a while, but my heart wanted to me in Seattle,”

So what can audiences expect?

Darr said there are new tunes added to the production, which include folk and bluegrass.

“My knees are telling me that that’s true.”

Darr also said that the men definitely take the lead with lots of choreography that will not disappoint audiences.

“The men out-populated the woman back then, so for the show there are so many really talented men dancing and singing.”

“It’s really not a hoe-down. I sit and watch the guys’ dance numbers, and I can only hope the women’s looks just as good. It’s such a blast, and Josh really makes it so fun.”

About the set, Darr could not comment, except that it’s a saloon setting and that “It’s huge.”

“I think people are just going to be transported. There is absolutely a connection to Seattle and the Gold Rush. I think they can expect so many elements to take in and a musical score that is really impressive. Definitely lots of laughs, too.

Paint Your Wagon plays June 2-25, 2016 at the 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 5th Avenue).

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