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Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie

Members say: Entertaining, Great singing, Delightful, Relevant, Absorbing
85
Critics
85
24 reviews
Members
85
104 reviews
 

Irish Repertory Theatre presents a toe-tapping musical exploration of the fascinating, beautiful, and sometimes tragic life of American folk legend Woody Guthrie.

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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.

 

Cast & Creatives (13)



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Reviews (128)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
85
Avg Score

80
The New York Times

"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

85
Lighting & Sound America

"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

90
Theatre's Leiter Side

“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

75
The Huffington Post

“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

80
Times Square Chronicles

“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

85
CurtainUp

"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

90
TheaterScene.net

"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

90
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"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

85
Carole Di Tosti

"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

75
Theatre Reviews Limited

"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

85
Stage Buddy

"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

95
BSonArts

"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

95
New York Irish Arts

“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

80
Village Voice

"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

85
Time Out New York

"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

80
The Washington Post

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

85
The Telegraph (UK)

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

75
Phindie

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

90
The New York Times

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

80
Theater Mirror

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

85
Chicago Theater Beat

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

90
DC Theatre Scene

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

85
The Arts Fuse

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

80
British Theatre Guide

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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
85
Avg Score

80
Intelligent, Relevant, Entertaining, Inspiring

See it if you are a Guthrie fan. The lead is fantastic! A inspirational life story of an activist, songwriter. More folk story than traditional play

Don't see it if .. because it closed in NYC - sounds like it will be mounted again. If it's near you, it's worth seeing.

Also I saw this the 9/09, the day before closing. I wish it had extended it... Read more Read less

88
Resonant, Great writing, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You are interested in Woody Guthrie, the man who wrote songs about America, and the people who built it into the country that it is today.

Don't see it if You cannot bear to hear a Socialist point of view. Dislike folk music. Do not care about Woody Guthrie's tough life.

Also Woody Guthrie died of ALS. He had a very tough upbringing and this pla... Read more Read less

78
Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if You are interested in the life of Woody Guthrie.!A very talented cast of entertainers .

Don't see it if You are not into Woody Guthrie. But you will be surprised and delighted if you see this show. Open your horizons!

95
Enchanting, Relevant, Inspiring, Great music, Heartbreaking

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.

90
Absorbing, Delightful, Intelligent, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if you are a fan of Woody Guthrie or just want to learn more about him, if you like folk music, if you want to be entertained and inspired.

Don't see it if you don't like folk music, you don't like leftist politics, you want theatre to be elaborately staged, you don't like biographical shows.

84
Delightful, Entertaining, Fun, Great music, Great singing

See it if you like folk music, Woody's songs interspersed with stories of his life as told by an actor speaking Woody's words; rousing music

Don't see it if want more of an in-depth look at his life, don't want stories about the great Depression

Also the four actors play a variety of instruments on stage from a harmonic... Read more Read less

90
Delightful, Great acting, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if Appreciate old school folk music without electronic amplification. Fans of Woody Gutherie . Uplifting portrail of the American spirit .

Don't see it if Do not enjoy folk music or shows with a historical context that .Think the idea behind "this land is your land ..." is corny.

Also You missed one of the treasures of this... Read more Read less

75
Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you like the music of Woody Guthrie.

Don't see it if you expect a good story and character development. This is a review of Guthrie's songs held together with a loose narrative of his life.

85
Ambitious, Delightful, Refreshing, Great singing, The most exhilarating show in town

See it if you are interested in the life and music of Woody Guthrie. 4 exuberant actors/musicians make his story relevant!

Don't see it if you are not interested in learning about Woody Guthrie or hearing his songs.

95
Intelligent, Relevant, Great singing

See it if You like folk music and the wonderful songs of Woody Guthrie

Don't see it if You don't like Woody Guthrie and his message

93
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Must see, Profound, Refreshing

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.

88
Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you love folk music and you wonder where all the folk song writers of our current state are hiding. Great show. Great man. Great music.

Don't see it if you don't like music with real lyrics about real history played by talented actor musician singers on instruments without amplification.

Also This was my first show after returning from my first visit to the Edin... Read more Read less

85
Absorbing, Resonant, Entertaining, Polished, Great cast and musicianship

See it if Enjoy folk music & are interested in the socio-political history behind these songs. Cast is talented and set/lighting adds drama.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in hearing about the working man in 20th cent. history and may not enjoy the leftist politics of Woody Guthrie.

Also I found this thoroughly entertaining and loved the little bits of stor... Read more Read less

95
Delightful, Profound, Relevant, Entertaining, Great singing

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.

85
Ambitious, Relevant, Entertaining, Great musicians

See it if you dont know anything about Woody Guthrie. Want to see some great musicians at work. Want to hear Guthrie's music well performed.

Don't see it if You want something in depth/ not geared toward entertainment by eliding over the serious issues Guthrie faced.

Also I went with a friend who actually knew Guthrie so perhaps I am a bit j... Read more Read less

80
Delightful, Masterful, Relevant, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you like heaps of talented musicianship telling the story of American resilience and protest. Very relevant themes for today's fascist govt

Don't see it if u don't like guitars, banjos & harmonicas (there are a lot of them), or if history told through songs ain't your thing. Very simple staging

89
Absorbing, Delightful, Masterful, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to be thoroughly entertained by talented singers and musicians who have a heartfelt story to tell.

Don't see it if you want a Broadway show with sets, or if you don't believe in unions and that "this land was made for you and me".

87
Delightful, Relevant, Energetic, Touching, Talented cast

See it if you enjoy protest folk songs performed by extremely talented musicians and singers that provide entertainment and is very relevant to today.

Don't see it if you dislike protest folksongs that support very progressive political positions.

84
Absorbing, Entertaining

See it if ee this show if you enjoy historical prospective with wonderful music and talented musicians

Don't see it if If you don't like folk music

90
Relevant, Entertaining, Fun, Informative, Great musicianship

See it if you're interested in Woody Guthrie, his music or how his history relates to today's world.

Don't see it if you hate folk music.

85
Refreshing, Relevant, Great singing, Great music and musicianship

See it if You love great folk music, are a Guthrie fan, want relief from the grim news of the day. A fast paced narrative of WG life, music & values

Don't see it if You need strong plot arc and folk music with a political message is not your thing

75
Ambitious

See it if You like the music of Woody Guthrie. He has some great classics.

Don't see it if You don't like folk music, Woody Guthrie, or that period of time during the American protest movement in this country.

85
Absorbing, Delightful, Intelligent, Resonant, Great singing

See it if for an enjoyable and entertaining history and storytelling of a man and his music

Don't see it if no reason not to see it

90
Delightful, Riveting, Entertaining, Great singing, Great musicians

See it if you like the music of Woody Guthrie or just enjoy folk music and would like to know more about his life.

Don't see it if if you don't like folk music or not a fan of Woody Guthrie.

85
Intelligent, Highly entertaining, Rousing music

See it if you like Guthrie's music and/or interested in social action songs. Terrific singing and acting shed light on Woody's life and music.

Don't see it if you are not interested in folk music.