The cast finishes a full ensemble piece with GV’s proudly displayed. Photo by Katie Compton
Comical narrators Daisy and Pearl lead the audience through a “self-involved” tale about the town of Marian during the Gold Rush in this year’s Gold Side production. After being informed by the Stage Manager that they are supposed to be putting on a show, Daisy and Pearl quickly configure a show about their town where they aren’t good at mining, but they “can’t do nothin’ else.”
The town’s Mayor announces that he has a plan to bring in the best miner around, Jesse “Jackpot” Jenkins, in an attempt to improve the town’s mining industry. This causes the town’s most popular miner and pickaxe salesman, Sammy, to feel threatened.
As a result, Sammy and Jesse square off in the mine about their different mining methods when their fellow miners’ axes keep breaking as a consequence of them being bad miners in “It’s All in the Swing.” Sammy claims that “it’s all in the swing” while Jesse asserts “it’s all in the work.” When the miners accept Jesse’s method, Sammy sulks off leaving his minions Colt and Pat to collect the broken axes to take to Sammy’s shop for repairs and direct the miners to the saloon.
When Pat and Colt arrive at Sammy’s shop for a pick-me-up, something that the narrators inform us is routine, Sammy is suffering from a breakdown until Colt and Pat remind him that once they repair the axes, everyone will love him again.
In this moment, the audience is informed the pickaxes break not because the townspeople are bad miners, but because Sammy and his minions make them break so they will continue to be grateful to Sammy.
“Good As Used” exemplifies this point to Sammy as Pat and Colt convince him that people prefer used goods to new, like “the gum off your shoes.” This cheers Sammy up enough to allow him to join the others at the saloon where Jesse is getting a lesson in town culture when she is served by a pregnant barkeeper and her unusual bar wench Iris.
Here, the townspeople celebrate their “one-of-a-kind” root beer in “On Tap,” a self-aware musical number that recognizes Gold Side’s penchant for energetic tap dances. At the end of the number, local curmudgeon, Banker Bob, ruins the townspeople’s optimism by reminding them of the town’s poor financial situation as well as their own as mediocre miners.
The narrators return to keep the story moving, but they fail to perform their duties due to the ill-effects of too much root beer. In “What Happens Next?” cast members, the Stage Manager, and our narrators attempt to keep the story going by attempting to remember the next scene in the sequence of events. Cast members run across the stage with different props, attempt to set up new scenes like that of a Western shootout, an Annie rendition, and a punny conversation between cacti until the narrators take a script from the frustrated Stage Manager. The narrators high-five and allow the show to continue without further interference.
The Mayor gathers the townsfolk around to announce the impending closure of the mine and town because of the debt owed to Banker Bob. Jesse protests the negative attitudes of the townsfolk by encouraging everyone to try to get together to mine enough gold to save the town, but when Sammy offers pickaxes for everyone to use, Banker Bob reveals Sammy’s part in the town’s demise with his faulty pickaxes.
The townspeople are disappointed in Sammy, but they refuse to let his mistakes get in the way of saving their home by rounding up what equipment he does have in his shop. When the townspeople leave Sammy and Banker Bob alone in the town square, Banker Bob reveals he is the one who gave Sammy the idea to create faulty pickaxes to increase his popularity in “Before Me.” Sammy feels devastated when he realizes Banker Bob’s plan to pilfer the town’s wealth was improbable until Banker Bob utilized Sammy’s insecurities for his benefit.
Jesse is able to hear parts of this conversation and challenges Sammy to prove his dedication to saving Marian by joining everyone in the mine regardless of whether or not they will forgive Sammy for his part in endangering their town.
When they reach the mine, the townspeople are losing hope and energy as their pickaxes continue to break. Sammy and Jesse rouse the townspeople in “Together We’ll Weather,” emphasizing the role everyone plays in the town to make it as strong as it is, and as long as the townspeople stick together they can make it through anything.
Pearl and Daisy lead the transition to the town square where the townspeople await their fate while they count the gold mined in an attempt to pay back Banker Bob. The Mayor thanks everyone for their hard work regardless of whether or not their town is saved, and Jesse salvages Sammy’s reputation by unveiling the true villain of the story, Banker Bob.
When the townspeople confront Banker Bob, he remains confident that their town will be under his control regardless of their discovery. That is, until Pearl and Daisy come back with a haul that is enough to pay back Marian’s debts.
Banker Bob laments his downfall by criticizing his fellow citizens’ way of life with Jesse and Sammy telling him it’s not about mining at all. It’s about being a part of something larger than oneself, friendly competition (win or lose), and celebrating a hard day’s work.
The story of the Western town of Marian ends with the narrators summarizing how the town came together after this incident, forgiving Sammy, Pat, and Colt, and how Jesse finally found a place to call home, leaving the audience to understand how there’s “no place in this whole wide world” that they would rather be.