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The Woodsman

From 29 critic and 278 member reviews
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.' 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


"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

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

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

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


"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


"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


"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


"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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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


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


for a previous production "From the get go, the environment of both the house and the stage enchants you: immediately, the audience enters the world of the show...Puppetry is used to create the witch, her band of crows, an forest monster, and each limb of 'The Woodsman' into his gradual transformation. The music is a combination of vocal harmonies and a lone fiddle player...The production is creative, entertaining, haunting, and beautifully tragic." Full Review

Masterful, Great staging, Absorbing, Enchanting, Clever

See it if You enjoyed The Wizard of Oz, The Wiz, or Wicked. Don't need words/music to enjoy your live art.

Don't see it if You don't have a long attention span. Don't care for the spin offs of the original. (Stage is crowded with actors moving props during show.)

Refreshing, Must see, Masterful, Intelligent, Absorbing

See it if -You like a new refreshing play. -You want a different positive theatre experience. -You like the Oz Books. -It'd an absolutley amazing play

Don't see it if -You want a musical. -This play is a must see. So good.

Refreshing, Intense, Masterful, Enchanting, Absorbing

See it if You are okay with a show with no words. Entire show is performed through sound effects yet tells a captivating story. Every seat is great.

Don't see it if You don't like small theaters. You enjoy singing more than anything else about a play.

Thought-provoking, Clever, Great staging, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy small beaurtiful theaters.

Don't see it if you need to have your hand held during a show.

Intelligent, Refreshing, Great staging, Enchanting, Exquisite

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.

Profound, Masterful, Great staging, Enchanting, Absorbing

See it if you enjoy theatre

Don't see it if if you don't enjoy theatre

Masterful, Refreshing, Great staging, Enchanting, Absorbing

See it if you want to be completely mesmerized by the use of puppetry in a familiar yet unfamiliar story.

Don't see it if your kids are too young -- there are some scary puppets!

Epic, Must see, Masterful, Clever, Absorbing

See it if you'd like to see a captivating story unfold without words. Amazing actors that let their expressions and body language tell the story.

Don't see it if you would like to see a play where you need to hear people talk. You feel overly saturated with the whole Oz motif.

Original, Intense, Great acting, Exquisite, Ambitious

See it if you loved "Wicked," "Into the Woods," and "The Wizard of Oz." Get ready to appreciate some heavy talent!

Don't see it if you need words, script, and dialogue.

Riveting, Romantic, Great staging, Enchanting, Absorbing

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.

Original, Profound, Masterful, Enchanting, Absorbing

See it if you are looking for something original short and sweet, and engaging

Don't see it if you do not like silence and puppets

Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Exquisite, Enchanting

See it if You want a new type of Broadway show and like to see life-size puppets, and want to have a great time.

Don't see it if You're more interested in shows with a lot of dialogue.

Riveting, Intelligent, Masterful, Epic, Great staging

See it if You like to see new works and different puppetry styles and designs. A whole play where very little is spoken between the cast themselves

Don't see it if You don't like puppets or devised pieces. More of a family show.

Original, Must see, Masterful, Clever, Enchanting

See it if you're looking for something out of the ordinary, and if you're a lover of the Oz mythology.

Don't see it if you're not okay with minimal dialogue

Riveting, Original, Must see, Clever

See it if You like being completely emersed in the a story acted out by great puppeteers and musicians all on stage.

Don't see it if You dislike seeing puppeteers or find it did suspend your disbelief.

Resonant, Great acting, Enchanting, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You want a gripping story with beautiful puppetry, and a refreshing take on the world of Oz, humble, free, and full of heart.

Don't see it if You need a show with dialogue, or flashy costumes and sets. Really though, it's amazing.

Edgy, Exquisite, Enchanting, Delightful, Clever

See it if You are interested in movement and clowning

Don't see it if You only prefer very literal theatre

Enchanting, Exquisite, Profound, Romantic, Great acting

See it if You like to be transported, you are a dreamer, you are not afraid of the connections you have with people in your own life.

Don't see it if You are looking for an upbeat and fluffy time.

Resonant, Masterful, Absorbing, Enchanting

See it if You love movement based storytelling. The show involves beautiful,simplistic, non-verbal storytelling that is gorgeously stunning!!!

Don't see it if You want something straight forward and unimaginative. This show requires imagination and the ability to get lost in the storytelling.

Great staging, Refreshing, Intelligent, Enchanting, Clever

See it if You like the Wizard of Oz or you like puppets or you like theater at all! It is so well done, you will regret missing it.

Don't see it if honestly can not think of a reason you shouldn't see this show. It's short, smart, well done, interesting, entertaining, it's just that good

Great staging, Entertaining, Intelligent, Romantic, Enchanting

See it if you love The Wizard of Oz or simply love intelligently staged theatre. A beautiful show!

Don't see it if nope. No reason not to see it.

Profound, Must see, Masterful, Exquisite, Enchanting

See it if You are a fan of Oz, have an open mind, and a great imagination.

Don't see it if You don't have a heart. (Get it?)

Original, Masterful, Great acting, Great staging, Absorbing

See it if you like original, masterful productions, where there is some puppetry, but so incredibly well done that you forget about the puppets

Don't see it if you dislike the world of the wizard of oz

Riveting, Masterful, Great staging, Enchanting, Exquisite

See it if you want a majestic, beautifully composed performance.

Don't see it if you want a lot of dialogue

Must see, Masterful, Entertaining, Enchanting, Absorbing

See it if You enjoy Wizard of Oz, creativity, a thrilling and beautiful piece of art, theater and entertainment.

Don't see it if You need dialogue

Cast & Creatives (23)