How my Happiness Day turned out… Paint Your Wagon at The Liverpool Everyman

Yesterday was #InternationalDayOfHappiness and I was having a happy smiley time at work. I love my work, I help people, I talk to loads, and I end the day smiling every time. Not yesterday.  Yesterday I was robbed by conmen, two young men who came in talking and yabbering, making a fuss and going off with whatever was on the desk. My mobile phone, sadly.  Husband ran off after them, I shouted, cried, phoned the Police (who do nothing in these circumstances) cancelled the mobile number and erased the contents remotely and settled back to sort out the insurance and everything else that follows on a loss like that.

I miss the phone. I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t missing it. Phones have become such an integral part of our lives that even a few hours without has me wondering how exactly I survived without it before?

But I am just thankful that the incident wasn’t worse: that the men didn’t turn back and beat up my husband when he ran after them. I’m thankful that a replacement phone was a phone call away and that my evening was fully planned anyway, so no need for the phone.

People complain about the bad things

I went to the Theatre with my 16 year old daughter, to see Paint Your Wagon at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool. Sarah’s doing her Theatre Studies GCSE this year, and it is wonderful to see how into the theatre she has got: she had the shape and arrangement of the stage fully dissected by the time the play started. And during the musical, she uttered narry a word as she sat, eyes fixed and absorbing every detail. I know she was watching everything, because interval talks are getting very in depth now.

Paint Your Wagon is most famous as the 1969 film starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood, but it started off originally as a 1951 musical stageshow by Lerner and Loewe. The two are similar in some respects: both set in the California Gold rush of the 1850’s, both feature a Mormon with two wives auctioning off one of them, but the film changes the name of the town from Rumson Creek to No Name City, and plays around with the love story from the original. It loses the daughter of Ben Rumson, changes the nationality of the Romantic Male Lead from Mexican to Clint Eastwood and fiddles with the story to add the extra action of mining for lost gold under the saloon. In fact, the film is essentially a different story, using some of the songs from the play and a few elements of the story that are too good to miss out (that polygamy thing). If you haven’t seen the film, seek it out. It’s funny, and Lee Marvin’s lack of singing ability is one to admire.

Home is made for coming from.jpg

The original is a much more straightforward love story. Ben Rumson has lost his wife 13 years ago, and takes his daughter, Jennifer, with him round the gold fields. That’s no problem when she’s young but as she matures, the other gold diggers find the nearness of forbidden fruits too much to take. They ask Ben to send her away to learn manners and to read, but before she goes she falls for the young Mexican Julio. Imagine ‘I Talk To The Trees’ but as a soft rumba. They promise to wait for each other while Jennifer is out East and she leaves.

1400x700_0000_Paint Your Wagon_Marc Elliott and Emily Hughes as Julio and Jennifer © Jonathan Keenan 1500 ###
Photograph is taken from the Liverpool Everyman website.

I don’t want to tell you the ending or the whole story, because if you’ve never seen the stageplay it is different enough from the film to be a whole new story. I loved the idea of hearing the familiar songs in a different way (that soft mexican beat again) and of having enough in common and enough different from the film to both be predisposed to like it and yet intrigued enough to have to pay attention to it.

The Everyman is a theatre in the round, so the audience sit on all four sides of the stage. We were under the band and the balcony, so some of the ‘action’ was out of our sight, without doing a 360 with your head. The cast is 14 strong,and have assembled as a repertoire company so they are working together on 4 separate plays this year. That meant in several scenes men play women and women play men, and at any one moment any of the ‘lead’ actors might be playing a backing part. The costumes were cleverly designed, so that any dresses or trousers went over a basic chorus outfit of longjohns.

My favourite costumes were those designed for the Fandango scene: the saloon girls dancing used to show both the passage of time and the decline of Rumson Creek as the gold seam becomes exhausted. Imagine fancy frills and bodices worn over longjohns: then put the tallest, thinnest, oldest, beak-nosed  man into one. The dissonance is funny just by itself: add to that a brilliant expression and physicality of moving and standing, and it was really funny. Like Gladstone doing the cancan.

As a musical, of course there was a lot of singing, but there was also a lot of dancing in the show, from the melancholic Wanderin Star to the very lively barn dance for Whoop-Ti-Yay! Choreography was beautiful, with a great use of expressive bodies, arms and of course faces. We were so close, you couldn’t help but see how much thought and feeling had gone into the dances.

The evening had me smiling and laughing throughout. I loved being so close to the actors that every facial movement mattered, you can’t have anyone just standing there doing nowt when every blink of the eye can be seen. The music was good, and the singing was enthusiastic, although some were better than others. That didn’t matter, though, because the story won in the end. We came away singing and laughing and that for me, after such a crazy lunchtime, was exactly what I needed. Bravo to The Everyman Company and I shall look forward to seeing you in A Clockwork Orange and Othello (with, as I understand it, a female Othello. Very interesting!)

My books have ideas that are good for hygge all year round, and are all available from Amazon. How to Hygge Your Summer, in Paperback and Kindle form, has lots of good ideas for the months ahead. Hygge is an all-year-round feeling, you see.  50 Ways to Hygge the British Way  is available in Paperback and Kindle version and Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas was released in September 2017 and is available again in paperback and ebook version.

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****How to Hygge the British Way Blog isn’t monetised. I have taken the decision that I want to remain neutral and not to promote things just because. I will only ever review items that I have bought myself, or that I think will help to promote hygge in a busy life. To do this, I need support. Even just the price of a coffee adds up to a book over time, and it means I can stay independent. Would you help?

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