Members say: Enchanting, Clever, Original, Great staging, Absorbing

About the show

New World Stages presents a return engagement of Strangemen & Company's highly theatrical retelling of the story of the Tin Man from 'The Wizard of Oz.'

... Read more

Based on the beloved writings of L. Frank Baum, 'The Woodsman' tells the origin story of the Tin Woodsman, the woman he loved, and the witch that would stop at nothing to keep them apart. Back by popular demand, Strangemen & Co.'s show brings the Land of Oz to life through puppetry and original music.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"This is a more assured production than the one I saw a year ago, and the encompassing visual lushness of its environment is new. But a fundamental stumble still keeps it from fully blossoming to life...Mechanics get in the way of fantasy, though, at a crucial point...Just when we want the play to move us, there’s a frantic muddle instead. That long sequence contains the key to the story’s heart, and this abundantly beautiful show still needs to find it." Full Review


"There’s a haunting beauty about this dark puppet show, created by James Ortiz, the writer, co-director, puppet master and star of the current production. This eerie prequel to “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' reveals how the Tin Woodman lost his heart — not to mention all his body parts — when the Wicked Witch of the East put a curse on his ax...The puppeteers are proficient and the effects are exquisite." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"It tells the backstory of the Tin Man via movement, mime and puppetry, with only a short prologue verbally setting up the action. It achieves great impact with minimal means...The evocative mood is set even before the show begins and it's sustained beautifully throughout the virtually wordless piece...The narrative is diffusely conveyed at times, many of the individual sequences are vividly rendered." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"There’s not an unconsidered moment: Every element contributes, echoes, foretells. Many a production could benefit from Strangemen’s level of attention to storytelling detail. And yet I couldn’t help feeling that all this attention had been lavished on a story that resists being opened...'The Woodsman' does not raise dramatic questions for us in the way 'Into the Woods' does with similarly archetypal characters." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Strangemen & Co.’s immersive and practically wordless adaptation of the writings of L. Frank Baum uses low-tech stagecraft like evocative Bunraku puppets, haunting vocal sound effects and a lone violinist to tell the backstory. Emotions are communicated through simple gestures, grunts and glances, not one wasted. Touching on mortality, futility and fate, 'The Woodsman' is a grown-up fairy tale that proves happiness is a worthwhile goal, even if it doesn’t last ever after." Full Review

New York Theater

"There is no question that it is heartfelt, and beautiful to look at; that James Ortiz is deeply talented; that the nine other performers are a dedicated ensemble, who even breathe as if one: We see their unified breath at both the beginning and the end of the show...Everything is tasteful and inventive, languid and lovely, and, to me, a tad tedious...It’s not their fault I left feeling like W.C. Fields, wondering if Toto’s origin story is next." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Combining elegantly choreographed movement, sensitive music, imaginative puppetry, and a minimum of spoken language, it offers 70 uninterrupted minutes of theatre magic that can be enjoyed by both adults and children...‘The Woodsman’ is ensemble theatre at its best, but that doesn’t disguise the fact that in James Ortiz, a lanky young Abe Lincoln-type with a memorably unruly shock of hair, it has a special kind of genius at its helm." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Silence, precisely enough articulated, can indeed speak volumes. And it does, in 'The Woodsman,' the haunting, lovely, and unforgettable puppet-fairy-tale extravaganza. So well rendered is this astonishingly short but impossibly full show...On the few occasions when an actor does use his or her actual voice, you'll be amazed at what you've been missing—and how, against the odds, you haven't missed it at all." Full Review


"You're in for an unusual, immersive experience...A hauntingly beautiful, spectacularly imaginative adult theater piece...For all the eeriness and Nick Chopper's destiny as the tin man without a heart, 'The Woodsman' has its lighter, more heart warming than heart breaking moments...A show that is fueled by imagination and talent rather than multi-million-dollars invested in technical wizardry." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"An inventive, magical journey empowered to be told with sparse dialogue, beautiful haunting music, ingeniously captivating puppets, and a remarkable cast that is able to embody and exude endless natural sounds and conjure up an array of heartfelt emotions...Do yourself a favor and luxuriate your senses in this impassioned production of 'The Woodsman.'" Full Review


"This engrossing and magical 75-minute stage show uses mime, puppetry and music to tell its story...The talented cast of nine alternating as actors and puppet handlers enact their brief but eerie tale in this unusual format...It is a bit confusing as to what is happening since after the opening prologue there is no dialogue...However, the show is always theatrical, always hypnotic." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"James Ortiz is a man of many talents. He is not only the playwright, but the set and puppet designer, co-director and star of this imaginative version of the back story of the Tin Man from 'The Wizard of Oz'...The play’s various elements blend seamlessly to produce an enchanted world. The use of puppets is the finest I have seen since 'War Horse'. If you are intrigued by inventive stagecraft, you will have a fine time. If you prefer your storytelling more conventional, you may be unhappy." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"'The Woodsman' is theatre at its most basic and beautifully creative…'The Woodsman's' success isn't simply a result of good source material…Though the actors are all excellent storytellers, and the ensemble work is excellently executed, the stars of this show are three puppets...So go see this piece which has a great deal of heart, even before the Tin Man loses and finds his." Full Review

Theater In The Now

"Inspired by the story of the Tin Man, 'The Woodsman' is a beautiful reimagining of a beloved tale using puppets, song, and a whole lot of heart...Using very little dialogue, extraordinary puppets, a singular violin underscore, and an ensemble of superb storytellers, 'The Woodsman' is a reminder that anything is possible in theater...'The Woodsman' is a true example of ensemble. The nine piece company moved and breathed as one. And it was enthralling." Full Review


"There’s precious little speaking in 'The Woodsman,' an achingly beautiful play combining puppetry and music that purports to explain how the Tin Man, from the Land of Oz, lost his heart...'The Woodsman' leaves us wondering if Nick will ever experience affection, but there’s no doubt he can feel pain. His guttural anguish after being reunited with Nimmee is full of humanity." Full Review

On Stage Blog

"It is an inventive, magical journey empowered to be told with sparse dialogue, beautiful haunting music, ingeniously captivating puppets, and a remarkable cast that is able to embody and exude endless natural sounds and conjure up an array of heartfelt emotions...It is pure, honest, human and a theatrical feast." Full Review

As Her World Turns

"'The Woodsman' is a lovely movement piece set to instrumental music; the actors play out each scene in imaginative ways using motion and puppetry, with very limited sets and props...The mood is set beautifully by the decor around the theater as well as through the haunting violin notes that accompany the actors throughout. It’s a magical 70 minutes at the theater." Full Review


"The acting is also what makes this show so special. The majority of the cast have been a part of the show since the creative process and/or in preceding productions. The fact that each actor knows their part inside and out results in an emotional performance...It is plain to see that there is something very special about 'The Woodsman'...The time and effort the cast and creative team has put into this show is obvious, which is why 'The Woodsman' deserves a long, long, long life." Full Review

BackStage Barbie

"What could have been an ordinary prequel is actually an aesthetically rich piece of art that completely reimagines a land of Oz that is heavy on impulse and light on text...The skill exhibited by the performers is quite fascinating as you believe the puppets are alive without much suspension of disbelief. Directors James Ortiz & Claire Karpen create a full sensory experience. It is visceral." Full Review

Plays to See

"I went in expecting a skilled and unique telling of the origin story of the Tin Man and boy, does 'The Woodsman' deliver...Strangemen & Co breathes life into this dark story with spectacular Bunraku style puppetry and hauntingly beautiful original music...Be prepared to immediately want to dust off your copy of the 'Wizard of Oz' so that you may finally have the happy ending to this simultaneously heart-wrenching and heart-warming story." Full Review

Front Row Center

"The story is told masterfully told...It has the theatrical precision of a Sondheim, the heart of a Tennessee Williams, and the drama of an Arthur Miller...The company quite literally breathes life into this production, and in that they are flawless...I had to wipe tears from my eyes because something so pure, simple, and honest occurred on the stage...See this once-in-a-lifetime theatrical experience." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"A prime example of theater that is bold precisely because it’s a bit old-fashioned...Part of what makes this company refreshing is their ambitious and rigorous approach...There were several moments in this production that reveal the fact that these are relatively nascent young artists...Hopefully, with time, this company will gain the confidence to quiet the inner critic that is overly concerned with making work that is understood rather than work that is felt and experienced." Full Review

New York Theatre Wire

"A dark dance-theatre exploration of love, loss and transformation...The production is a piece of theatre magic, woven from movement, sound design, lighting, props and the delicate accompaniment of violin. The puppets are magnificent...Directors James Ortiz and Claire Karpen breathed life into everything...Every detail of the production receives careful attention...'The Woodsman' offers us the best of several worlds plus puppets as interesting as those in 'War Horse' at Lincoln Center." Full Review

The New York Times

for a previous production "The spectacle is handmade, infused with breath and light...With so many pieces well in place, it seems churlish to complain, but one significant flaw holds 'The Woodsman' back: The storytelling isn’t clear enough. The visual language can be muddled, and important bits are sometimes rushed. The performance lasts only an hour, and maybe that’s not long enough. By letting a few more moments linger, this show’s talented creators might just lodge 'The Woodsman' in our hearts." Full Review


for a previous production "James Ortiz uses his many creative hats to weave a near-seamless story, told almost entirely without dialogue...Technically speaking, 'The Woodsman' is a well-oiled machine...The performers share a common breath as they collectively establish the show's meticulously designed rhythms. However, just as no measure is left un-choreographed, no moment is left without emotional intention, creating an efficient engine that powers a robust heartbeat." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Original, Exquisite

See it if you like experimental theatre with marionettes and you love The Wizard of Oz.

Don't see it if you don't like marionettes or the story of the Wizard of Oz.

Also This production is from young artists and it became a hit, they lasted... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Refreshing, Romantic, Moving

See it if you're up for a beautiful 90 minutes of non-traditional storytelling.

Don't see it if 90 minutes of no dialogue is going to put you off.

Also This is a physical theatre masterpiece that I sincerely hope has a lon... Read more Read less

Clever, Enchanting, Inventive, Romantic, Great staging

See it if you respond to beautiful images. The simple, heartwarming story is told almost entirely without words. Clever use of props.

Don't see it if you are mostly drawn to words. My attention wandered a bit. Mostly, though, I enjoyed the stunning, haunting beauty.

Also This work is available for streaming on Broadway HD.

Enchanting, Quirky, Moving, Entertaining, Great puppetry

See it if You like the whole Wizard of Oz wheelhouse (this is a prequel for Tin Man's story). You like puppets.

Don't see it if You can't handle sad stories. You don't want anything messing w/ your ideas of Oz. You don't like puppets & prefer traditional storytelling.

Delightful, Enchanting, Exquisite, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if you love fairy tales - this was a magical, ethereal production

Don't see it if you hate the Wizard of Oz

Enchanting, Exquisite, Intelligent, Refreshing, Great staging

See it if A beautiful piece of theater in which you use your imagination and let your mind do all the work. Stunning piece of work!

Don't see it if you get bored easily.

Ambitious, Edgy, Masterful, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if You are a Wizard of Oz fan.

Don't see it if You like to see productions with speaking parts that leave you wanting more.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Enchanting, Refreshing, Great staging

See it if you want to see an audacious, heartwarming re-envisioning of the life of the Tin Man. I was completely riveted and enchanted. Truly magical.

Don't see it if you don't like smaller productions or are prone to findings things too twee

Enchanting, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if your favourite character is the Tinman from the Oz story. Great acting!

Don't see it if you think the Tinman's story really starts, when this performance ends.

Great acting, Masterful, Great staging, New, Fresh

See it if You want something totally different. It isn't quite a musical nor is it quite a play. Very absorbibg and clever use of the "puppets."

Don't see it if You want the traditional.

Original, Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Must see

See it if You love the Wizard of Oz. You love creative storytelling. You love incredible acting.

Don't see it if You need spoken word. There is virtually no speaking in this play. The story is told through puppets, facial expressions, and acting.

Original, Beautiful, Enchanting, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you want to have a calm night of theater with beautiful storytelling through puppetry and body language.

Don't see it if you are looking for a fast paced, up beat show.

Clever, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Great staging

See it if you're sick and tired of Lion King's puppetry and you wanna see better of it

Don't see it if you wanna hear talking and singing casts

Original, Absorbing, Enchanting, Must see, Riveting

See it if You want to see phenomenal actors/puppeteers/musicians create magic in an intimate venue.

Don't see it if You require dialogue to understand a play. There is almost no dialogue and it is a sad story though it contains very funny moments.

Ambitious, Clever, Enchanting, Great staging

See it if Almost wordless play told in puppetry and movement. Fantastic stagecraft and magical. The storytelling is marvelous.

Don't see it if I'm not sure if it's considered a play or a musical.

Original, Clever, Enchanting, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if It's a great interpretation.

Don't see it if If you are a commercial theatre goer.

Beautiful, Intimate, Evocative

See it if You like innovative, emotion-driven performance pieces with sparse use of dialogue but beautiful expression and design

Don't see it if You need dialogue. So glad I tkts'ed this piece.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Riveting, Romantic, Great staging

See it if You love theatre in its purest and most beautiful form

Don't see it if You like plays with complex plots, big productions. If you get bored by theatre with very few words.

Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting

See it if you like creative, inventive theatre

Don't see it if you need dialogue to enjoy a show

Absorbing, Enchanting, Romantic, Indulgent, Great staging

See it if you want to see some AMAZING puppetry with really cool staging. The story is simple, but full of pun intended.

Don't see it if you need dialogue. Also, if you don't like a leading man who gives off an air of pretension. He's got a great mind and he seems to know it.

Absorbing, Clever, Confusing

See it if You love the "oz" stories!! Great puppetry! Very creative!

Don't see it if There isn't talking only beginning and end! Can be confusing for young and even old crowds

Original, Absorbing, Enchanting, Romantic, Great staging

See it if You like innovative storytelling and pantomime. Or if you can't get enough Oz.

Don't see it if You don't like puppets, need words in your theatre, or think Oz origin stories are overdone.

Clever, Enchanting, Riveting, Romantic, Great staging

See it if you want a beautiful love story, powerfully told thru ballet, gorgeous puppetry, incredible foley. A testament to the power of imagination

Don't see it if you want a straight clear narrative, you prefer language over aesthetics, you don't know the story of Oz.

Original, Ambitious, Clever, Enchanting, Refreshing

See it if you want a unique and fresh theatrical experience, with music and puppetry in a way you would never expect. Very beautiful and emotional.

Don't see it if Everyone should give it a chance. You will be surprised.

Original, Ambitious, Great acting, Romantic, Great staging

See it if You like new interesting takes on old stories. Like good fanfiction with a wonderful aesthetic and performance.

Don't see it if You can't get over puppetry or a lack of words. Both aspects add enormously but they'll be a thing for some.

Cast & Creatives (23)