A wonderful musical, “Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie” is now on stage at the Westport Country Playhouse. This is a very limited engagement that runs until January 20th 2018 and is not to be missed. The show ran off Broadway in the summer of 2017.
Woody Guthrie is an icon in American music and culture. The play follows the arc of his life from his humble roots growing up in Oklahoma, to his days as a wandering musician who traveled the nation during the depths of the Great Depression. This era of grinding poverty, dust bowls and unrest in our country made a tremendous impression on Guthrie and influenced his music. Most American music up until his time was polite and trivial fare with little awareness for reality. Guthrie’s experience with the Dust Bowl of the Mid West, the foreclosure of farms, the vast migration of poor farmers to California all became the subjects of his songs. The fact that the police in California blocked the migration of Americans into California, or that many were huddled into impoverished camps became his subjects and he their champion. These Americans had no voice and Woody gave them one by way of his music. He would become pro-union, anti-fascist and even serve in World War II. Although he would later be blacklisted in the post war era, his message and his music would influence a generation of singer/songwriters from Pete Seeger, to Bob Dylan and the protest singers of the 1960s.
The play is composed of mostly songs and is linked by Guthrie’s own words as his story is brilliantly told by David M.Lutken who devised the play and portrays Woody. Lutken brings charm, gritty realism and humor to this famous musician. Much of the Guthrie songbook is presented in the two act play. Rousing renditions of This Train is Bound for Glory, This Land is Your Land, The Ballad of Tom Joad, Jolly Banker and Pastures of Plenty were complimented by the moving Deportees (about the death of deported migrant workers), Sinking of the Reuben James, Vigilante Man, and I Ain’t Got No Home.
The cast includes Lutken as Woody(Broadway: Inherit the Wind, Ring of Fire, The Will Rogers Follies) David Finch (Broadway credits: Cabaret) , Katie Barton (regional theater) and Leenya Rideout (Broadway credits: War Horse, Cyrano De Bergerac, Cabaret). The cast sings, acts and plays numerous instruments during the performance including, guitar, banjo, dulicimer, mandolin, stand up bass, harmonica, jaw harp, and fiddle. The performance was directed by Nick Corley. The set design was simple but effective. And like Guthrie himself, it was all about the music and the message.
The opening night audience gave the actors a standing ovation for a great performance. Do not miss this special musical. A truly wonderful and fast paced evening of talented musicians, great music and subject matter is so relevant in today’s national economic and political climate.
Tickets are $35, $45, $50
for more info and tickets: http://www.westportplayhouse.org
Westport Country Playhouse
25 Powers Court Westport Ct tel. 888.927.7529
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