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]

Woody Sez at The Arts Theatre from 13 Jan 2011

Mary Cossette Productions and Hartshorn – Hook Productions present WOODY SEZ – The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie which is written by David M. Lutken with Nick Corley and directed by Nick Corley.

In January 2009 at the inauguration of Barack Obama, Pete Seeger joyfully led a crowd of hundreds of thousands in singing “This Land Is Your Land”.  The spirit of that song’s writer, American Folk legend Woody Guthrie is celebrated in the new musical, Woody Sez which blasts onto the stage of the Arts Theatre this January.  Guthrie’s music lives on and continues to inspire.  The hundreds of musicians who acknowledge their debt to the man who performed with the slogan “This machine kills fascists” emblazoned on his guitar include the mighty Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and our own Billy Bragg.
   
Weaving together Guthrie’s enduring words and songs, Woody Sez paints a powerful portrait of this revered cult figure’s fascinating and often tragic life. Considered the Godfather of American folk music, Guthrie was an altogether original protest singer, fighting for and lifting up the spirits of people beaten down by the hardships of The Great Depression.
   
Playing the lead role, British trained Broadway veteran David Lutken is joined by singer/songwriter and fiery fiddler Darcie Deaville, multi-instrumentalist Helen Russell and Andy Teirstein, himself a classical composer (and former circus performer!). Directed by Nick Corley, also a Broadway regular who collaborated with Lutken on the book, the musical was first brought to life in 2007 at the Edinburgh Fringe. Since that time, with Mary Cossette Productions, the show has grown through festival productions in Belfast, Brighton (Argus Angel Award), Recklinghausen’s Ruhrfestspiele, and back in the US in Woody’s home state of Oklahoma, where it was voted “Musical of the Year” (2009).
   
Woody Sez is a story of survival, passionate belief, timeless music, and the flawed and fated trail of a singular and determined American poet.

Venue: The Arts Theatre – 6/7 Great Newport Street London WC2H 7JB

Dates: 13th January – 2nd April 2011

Cast includes: David M. Lutken, Andy Teirstein, Darcie Deaville, Helen J Russell 

For more information about show and tickets, please visit: www.woodysez.co.uk