Irish Repertory Theatre presents a toe-tapping musical exploration of the fascinating, beautiful, and sometimes tragic life of American folk legend Woody Guthrie. More…
Performing classics such as 'This Land Is Your Land' and 'So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Yuh,' four actor/musicians bring to life the many people who formed the fabric of Guthrie's story. Not only was he a seminal influence on Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, he also inspired generations of Irish folk singers like the Clancy Brothers and Christy Moore. His songs may have told the stories of the disenfranchised in the Dust Bowl, but his recurrent themes speak of famine, workers’ rights, and emigrant strife. His legacy defined an American era of social consciousness and political expression that is alive and palpable today.
"A cast of four thoroughly authentic folk performers combine the major events in Guthrie’s life with the music he created at each stage of his career in a wonderfully entertaining and frequently moving tribute...Together, these four performers create the sense of a get-together remembering our old friend, Woody Guthrie. And it is the genius of that old friend that makes this get-together so entertaining and enlightening." Full Review
“One of the best shows of the year…If ‘Woody Sez’ were just four talented musicians playing Woody Guthrie songs, with a little intro, it would be great. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a theatrical collage of music and time…It’s quite a feat: the cast are amazing musicians, and wonderful actors who give heart-rending performances…Yes, it’s a bio play, but not only of Guthrie, but of America…It’s never been more needed than now.” Full Review
“If you're not sure who Woody Guthrie was and what he accomplished and stood for, I suggest you hop an MTA boxcar over to the Irish Rep…where 'Woody Sez,' an excellent jukebox bio-musical about his life, is being enacted by a delightful quartet of multitalented singer-musicians. I have no idea of what the Irish connection is…but it will take only a few minutes before you stop wondering about it and give yourself over to the joys of top-notch musicianship and homespun biographical storytelling.” Full Review
"Four wonderful performers vibrantly sing and act out the singer-songwriter’s classic, political songs...Lutken magnificently captures the essence of Guthrie with his wry twang, beaming smile, and dramatic presence...The script is an accomplished distillation of historical details that seamlessly blend with the songs into an engaging, informative, and highly entertaining presentation...A living monument to the enduring greatness of Woody Guthrie’s songs and a reminder of his courageous life." Full Review
"Seeing the wonderful musical tribute to Guthrie is not only an entertaining and emotional trip down memory lane but a reminder of what Americans must currently fight for in a time when workers and liberal principles are under assault...It is Lutken who charms on stage by leading us through Guthrie’s life and comments, as well as playing guitar as he takes us on the musical journey...This is a production not to be missed for those who enjoy or especially treasure folk music." Full Review
"An inspired choice for this fraught political moment...'Woody Sez' is a poignant, frequently stirring account of a life spent fighting the good fight...Lutken, a first-rate musician and singer, puts over the numbers with brio, and he is aided by an equally gifted company...Corley's direction ensures that the songs and narrative are woven together with the seamlessness and homespun purity of an authentic country quilt." Full Review
"Lutken devised a tribute to folk music's legendary poet of the people into something that transcends the biographical concert genre...Lutken's collaboration with director Nick Corley makes for an extraordinarily entertaining and informative two hours. It's a concept that calls for a cast of just four, though all must be super gifted and extremely versatile...To describe Lutken's triple-threat singing, playing and acting as excellent is an understatement. He is a wonder!" Full Review
"An entertaining and poignant evening of music and storytelling...With a minimalist set and adaptive, flexible staging, the ensemble brings together their sterling musical skills...Guthrie’s words will continue to reverberate in our hearts and minds. The injunctions in his songs are a welcome anodyne to get us through the next day or over a rough patch to eventually take the stand necessary in our own lives and for our culture and nation." Full Review
"The show is two hours of pure string-plucking, chord-strumming, foot-stomping, storytelling delight...It also helps that he has a cast of energetic and highly proficient folk musicians telling his story. Lutken plays Guthrie with a mix of passion, humor, and exuberance that makes for a deeply compelling and moving portrait of the man...I think today's young people will find in Guthrie a fitting champion. And 'Woody Sez' is the perfect introduction." Full Review
"Like the songs themselves, everything about the show has the ring of truth. The performers look and sound as though they’ve stepped off a farm in Guthrie’s native Oklahoma...Playing guitar, fiddle, banjo, dulcimer, harmonica and other instruments, the performers plumb the inner depths of a man whose Okie roots—scarred by poverty, mental illness and domestic tragedies—filled him with empathy for the downtrodden." Full Review
“As American as apple pie…This is a tribute to Woody Guthrie…‘Woody Sez” features four mega-talented musicians and singers. Megan Loomis, Helen Jean Russell and Andy Teirstein support Mr. Lutken who embodies Woody. The arrangements by the cast are spectacular…Mr. Guthrie’s songs have a spiritual side to them that encompasses loving your brothers and your sisters no matter who they are, as well as a social consciousness with political expression.” Full Review
"This is a show that favors breadth over biographical detail, and there’s a lot to cover, especially when you consider the snippets of more than 40 songs in about two hours. But the exhilarating 'Woody Sez,' a fine balm for a summer’s night, moves at a brisk and polished pace...Mr. Lutken’s Guthrie avoids aw-shucks sentimentality; Mr. Teirstein demonstrates remarkable instrumental versatility; and the sparkling Ms. Loomis mugs winningly as she takes a fiddle solo." Full Review
"As genial as a hootenanny, yet creator Lutken and his collaborators never water down Guthrie’s politics or get sentimental...Nor do Lutken and company strain to emphasize contemporary resonances...Director Corley and the cast certainly make Guthrie’s standpoint look and sound appealing...But the script remains too cursory to convey much of the man’s psychological landscape...Thanks to the music, however, the social fabric comes across in all its exhilarating, exasperating fullness." Full Review
“The legendary songwriter’s story is told with, of course, the expected folk songs delivered in rousing arrangements…Yes, ‘Woody Sez’ is corny, but who sez corn can’t be fun? And the fun stops from time to time when the downs of Guthrie’s up-and-down life are recounted. Also, it’s difficult not to think about the timelessness of the Guthrie songbook.” Full Review
"The evening is kept at a good steady pace by the competent direction of Nick Corley...Perhaps, at certain times during this production, the power of the song is diminished by the informative introduction but for the most part it serves this production...The overly skilled cast travels through the evening exercising their wide range of vocal ability while playing an incredible array of different instruments...Go spend a couple of enjoyable hours listening to the music of a protesting pioneer." Full Review
for a previous production “A haunting, powerful show…This tribute includes enough humor and understatement to keep its hero recognizably human…A theatrical patchwork quilt — scraps of biography and social history sewn together with bits of music and drama by four remarkably multitalented performers. And like the finest of cloth quilts, this one transcends its homespun materials to become a work of art…There’s nothing routine about ‘Woody Sez’…A unified theatrical experience." Full Review
for a previous production “A show so good that it makes my job easy…Brimming with toe-tapping music, rich emotion, and powerful messages…Lutken brings Guthrie’s complex prairie philosopher persona to life with practiced confidence and genuine love for his subject…On the whole, it’s a triumphant piece of theater that simultaneously delivers larger than life commentary and moving personal drama in the tale of an American legend.” Full Review
for a previous production “I defy anyone to go and see ‘Woody Sez’ and not come away feeling that this modest yet delectable offering is a pretty snug fit for these cash-strapped, anxious times…If the evening valuably helps puts today’s travails in historical perspective, what comes across equally forcefully is how the songs transcend the time of their writing…The performers sing with lusty conviction and they handle their instruments with impeccable finesse. They spread warmth out across the auditorium.” Full Review
for a previous production “David M. Lutken plays Woody with communal charisma...Lutken, as sympathetic in his down-home decency and grass-roots purity as his inspiration, colors all the warm notes in Woody’s haunting call to arms, ‘Why Do You Stand There in the Rain?’ It’s an odyssey of a hootenanny, as unflinchingly sincere as Garrison Keillor in front of a mike or Woody’s pals Pete Seeger and Leadbelly singing up a storm just by ‘always going on.’” Full Review
for a previous production “Thoroughly enjoyable and effectively assembled...All four members of the cast are expansively competent, both vocally and instrumentally…Lutken and his crew bring home to us today just how valuable Guthrie and his music are to understanding the complexity of America’s past…Those who are close to young children owe it to them to take them to this production, if only as a way to help them better understand the history of the country they will inherit.” Full Review
for a previous production “An amiable 90 minutes of melodies…The musicianship is first-class…The cast effortlessly adapts to the rousing spirit of the songwriter’s heartland balladeering and protest music…As presented here, though, Guthrie’s music is more seductive than antagonistic, often managing to express with dry-eyed humor the bitter experiences of the poor…The topical similarities of some of the songs do provoke a few yawns, but ‘Woody Sez’ says good night well before its welcome is worn out.” Full Review
for a previous production “Four talented, versatile musicians provide a low-key musical commentary-biography…The four musician-singer-performers happily breeze along with the breeze and melodies, having a great time on stage…Multi-talented, lanky David Lutken as Guthrie is refreshingly sincere, singing and strumming Guthrie’s tunes with gusto…Guthrie’s songs ring out today as loudly as they did when he wrote them.” Full Review
for a previous production “Wholesome and homespun…With laid-back passion and gentle amusement, David M Lutken takes on the role of Guthrie…Much like Guthrie and his music, the production is low-key and easy going. Whilst often amusing, it’s never hilarious, though often toe-tapping and uplifting, it never blasts you with a wall of euphoria. Though it would probably be better in a smaller space, the cast create an intimate, welcoming and inviting atmosphere.” Full Review
for a previous production “An eminently likable concert biography...The emphasis is clearly on the music, at which the supporting cast is admirably adept, though Lutken, as the featured player, brings more theatrical skill and empathy to his role...Although there’s nothing particularly surprising in the format of 'Woody Sez,' and often the paean to Guthrie borders on hero worship...the sympathetic production provides a toe-tapping, foot-stomping, crowd-pleasing hootenanny of a tribute to an American icon." Full Review
See it if U like folk music. Want to know Guthrie's bio. Learn about American history/events that influenced a great simple man to protest peacefully
Don't see it if U dislike musicals. U have no sympathy for universal suffering. U support capitalist exploitation. One can learn sensitivity seeing Show.
See it if You love great music and a gifted ensemble who tell a fantastic story! It is simply the best show in town and I see everything!
Don't see it if You don't want to be entertained and moved and would rather be home and unhappy. There is no reason not to see this amazing show
See it if Emotional bio with great music. I fell in love with Woody... his causes, his fellowship, and his tragedies. This show has a lot of heart.
Don't see it if You don't like bios, or don't like folk music about the plight of the impoverished, much of it during the Great Depression.
See it if This show was amazingly relevant to what is going on in this country and the world today. If you like "folk music", you will love it.
Don't see it if This was basically a concert, not a play. Otherwise, see it.
See it if the idea of 4 performers masterfully playing 18 instruments & singing like hobo angels sounds amazing, you will be moved & transported.
Don't see it if you have no interest in honestly looking at America's past or learning about one of America's great cultural treasures.
See it if Even the folk indifferent will enjoy WS. Pure entertainment and an interesting life story. He opposed radio censorship despite income loss.
Don't see it if Stuck in mezzanine.
See it if you like political theater and/or folk music. The cast of 4 musicians/actors were amazing !
Don't see it if you don't like politics in you theater, need high production values or you hate folk music.
See it if If you loved Woody's or Pete Seeger, you will have memories refreshed. See it also if you enjoy learning the story of a msn's life
Don't see it if You do not like the banjo.
See it if you enjoy historical narrative plays filled with inspiring songs and great folk music.
Don't see it if you prefer heavy multi-character dramas and are not interested in folk-inspired narratives of life in the dust bowl era of American history.
See it if .you like to learn about a performer's family and struggles and career . want to see talented singers, performers and musicians in 4 people
Don't see it if I can't imagine anyone not liking it
See it if You love folk music; you believe entertainment can be socially and politically relevant; you want to hear some of Guthrie's catalog . .
Don't see it if You do not like folk music.
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