Review: Woody Sez – The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie

Woody Sez opened at Arts Theatre, London on 18th January 2011 (previewing from 13th January) to positive reviews and it’s easy to see why.  It’s playing until 2nd April.

Woody Sez is a musical which tells the story of American singer-songwriter/balladeer/folk musician Woody GuthrieWoody Guthrie is played by the talented David M Lutken (who also created this musical along with Nick Corley).  Other talented cast members include Darcie Deaville (Lefty Lou), Helen J Russell (Nora Guthrie, Mother) and Andy Teirstein (Pete).

Woody Sez is presented by Mary Cossette Productions and Hartshorn Hook Productions.  The tune-filled musical is directed by Nick Corley with Musical Direction by David M Lutken, Scenic Direction by Luke Hegel-Cantarella, Lighting by Matt Frey and Costumes by Jeffrey Meek.

The show contains many, many songs of Woody Guthrie that many will remember – one of the most famous being ‘This Land is Your Land’.  For those who don’t know the story of Woody Guthrie or his songs, you will be in for a real treat.  Those who are familiar with this great artist will be in for a memorable time.  Guthrie has had quite a life filled with loss and hardship and this, along with life experiences, is portrayed in his songs associated with all he had seen particularly in the Dust Bowl Era of the Great Depression.

Oddly enough fires were the main source of most of his hardships from losing the family home to a fire to losing a sister in a fire to his father being injured in one.  He even lost a 4-year old daughter in a fire.  There was also the hardship of the family’s financial ruin and the institutionalization and eventual loss of his mother.  Personal losses as well as life experiences provided the inspiration for his stories told by song.  Guthrie was an advocate for truth, justice, and fairness which was often portrayed in his music, books, and poems.  He also wrote a column titled Woody Sez for The Daily Worker newspaper for several months.

Guthrie has been very inspirational and influential with many musicians world-wide.  The ideas and feelings of his thought-provoking songs are as relevant and meaningful today as they were in his time.

All this is honestly portrayed in Woody Sez by four very talented singers/actors.  Whether folk music is your forte or not, you’re bound to enjoy this biopic musical.  Be prepared to be entertained… just relax, enjoy, and let your toes do the tapping.

by Ann Kamran (stagetalk.co.uk)

[Rating:5.0/5]