The show begins with the father greeting the audience and introducing his wife, teenage daughter, seven-year-old son, and grandpa. Father leads the audience in choosing the name of each character, after Grandpa convinces the audience to name them all 'stupid things' ("Gone To Oregon"). Father tries to convince the kids that the journey to Oregon will be fun and educational, while Mother passive-aggressively points fingers at Father after he burned down their farm. The journey begins in Independence, Missouri, and as the family walks through the town, they come across many different people giving them honest but depressing advice ("Independence!"). They decide to go down to the general store to buy bullets and only bullets (being a family of farmers, they don't need any food), while Daughter worries about the dangers of the trip. Mother tries to convince Daughter and Son to go along with Father. As the song ends, another citizen gives the family a bit of advice: "Friends don't let friends ford the river!"
As the family disperses, Daughter is approached by a man who introduces himself as Mr. McDoon ), who is taken by her beauty. As they flirt, he warns her about the famous outlaws The Bandit King, and his sidekick, Cletus Jones. Upon hearing his name, Cletus appears to assist McDoon with catching Daughter, who is unaware that this handsome stranger is actually The Bandit King. Mother arrives in the nick of time to save her from his advances, much to the dismay of Daughter, who is looking for love. As the women leave, The Bandit King vows revenge. Grandpa reprimands Mother for leaving Father in the General Store with all the money, knowing how easily Father can be fooled by salespeople. Mother expresses her belief in him, only to be interrupted by Father. The general store manager has swindled Father into purchasing a wagon in terrible condition for an outrageous price, along with a deformed ox that could die at any minute.
They finally begin their journey, and while Mother, Daughter, Son, and Grandpa complain, Father enjoys the fun of the family road trip ("The Grind"). The days turn into months, and when the wagon breaks for the tenth time, Father sends Daughter, Son, and Grandpa to go hunting after Son ate all the grass reserve while he was throwing supplies out of the wagon. After Daughter fails to hit small game, Grandpa hands the gun over the Son and tells his outlandish story about his war against the lobsters in 1812. Son is faced with a family of buffalo, and a tough moral decision while Daughter and Grandpa try to convince him to kill for the first time ("Pays To Be An Animal"). After Son guns down the family, they drag the little meat they can carry back to the wagon. Mother rations out the food, while Daughter complains about the lack of food. After Daughter tells Mother that she thinks she is overbearing, Mother fakes death so that Daughter admits that she needs Mother. When Mother 'wakes up', Daughter wishes that she didn't have a family to care about, and that The Bandit King would just take her away. After she leaves, Mother laments her baby's sadness, and expresses her love ("When The World's At Stake").
With the rest of the family asleep, Father tries to convince Mother to come to bed with him. After a long while, Mother decides to slide under the covers only to immediately be bitten by a snake. Father saves Mother by sucking out the poison, but accidentally swallows the poison himself. While in a coma, he hallucinates that a mysterious voice tells him that the 'watchers' will kill off one of them in an unpleasant way ("Dysentery World"). After the family has arranged a funeral for Father, he miraculously awakens and tells them of the fate the voice described. The family is unaware that The Bandit King is watching them from afar, planning to take Daughter away and make her his child bride, upsetting Cletus Jones, who has his own feeling for the thief. The Bandit King sets the family wagon on fire while Cletus kidnaps Daughter ("Wagon on Fire").
Act II Edit
The show restarts with Daughter in the wagon of The Bandit King, missing her family ("Lost Without You"). Her family arrives at a pub, while the owner is astonished that anyone was stupid enough to be out in the snow. Mother enjoys a drink, and pays with her wedding ring. Mother compares having Father around to having a dog—a cute dog, but a biter, who isn't safe around her family. Mother takes Son and leaves the pub to walk to Oregon, while Father is left with Grandpa. Grandpa gives him a pep talk to get himself back up just as The General Store Guy enters the pub with a lady friend. Father decides that he will do anything to get back his family, and approaches The General Store Guy, demanding a working wagon. When he refuses, Father threatens to shoot him and his partner, because he needed to fix his family no matter what ("When The World's At Stake (Reprise)"). The General Store Guy asks Father not to hurt his lady friend, and gives Father his wagon. Father takes the new wagon on the trail, picking up Mother and Son on the way. Mother is overjoyed, and takes the reins, setting the pace to grueling and the rations to barebones ("Speedrun"). While the family races to Oregon, Cletus Jones reveals his jealousy to Daughter, who constantly rejects The Bandit King's advances. The trio come upon the great Columbia River, and the bandits decide to float their wagon across the river ("Caulk The Wagon"). While in the river, they hit a rock that causes them to fall out. Daughter grabs onto a rock while the thieves are swept away. The family arrives just in time to see Daughter in the river. Father tells the family they will need to ford the river to save her. When Son protests, remembering the words of the citizen back in Independence, Mother insists they're not friends: "We're family!" They manage to reach Daughter. Unfortunately, they crash into a boulder and wreck their wagon. Luckily, every member of the family is saved by Grandpas' lobster nemesis, Cornwallis . The happy family is thrilled to see the Oregon border just a few yards away. When they reach the state line, they are stopped by a doctor who tells them only the healthy members of the party can continue to Oregon, and one of them (chosen earlier by the audience) is about to die of dysentery. The doctor announces the victim, who says their final goodbyes to the rest of the family, complete with all the sounds and smells of death by dysentery ("You Gotta Go"). The remaining family drags the body across the border, and are amazed when the victim wakes up. Grandpa discovers a million-dollar bill in his pocket that the lobsters returned to him, and shares his fortune with his family. To celebrate, Son finally convinces to family to help realize his dream of skinny dipping ("Naked In A Lake").
Father: Jeff Blim
Mother: Rachael Soglin
Daughter: Jaime Lyn Beatty
Son: Lauren Lopez
Grandpa: Corey Dorris
McDoon: Joey Richter
Mysterious Voice: Joey Richter
General Store Guy: Joey Richter
Various Citizens: Joey Richter
Cletus Jones: Corey Dorris
Horny Ox: Joey Richter
Ensemble: Jeff Blim, Racheal Soglin, Jaime Lyn Beatty, Lauren