Ends Sep 10

Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie

Members say: Entertaining, Great singing, Delightful, Relevant, Absorbing
23 reviews
72 reviews

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

... Read 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.

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Cannot be applied to previous purchases or combine with other offers. Limit 4. All tickets subject to a $2.50 service charge. No refunds of exchanges. Offer expires July 23, 2017. Not valid for Saturday or Sunday matinees. Extended through September 10, 2017.

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Cast & Creatives (13)

Reviews (95)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

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

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

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

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

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


"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


"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

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

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

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

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


"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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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
Avg Score

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

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.

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


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.

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

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.

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.

Well performed, Enjoyable overview of the singer/activist's life and work, Most of the music was new to me

See it if You are a fan of Woody Guthrie's music and would like to know more about his life and times.

Don't see it if You are expecting to laugh. Most of Guthrie's story is tragic.

Relevant, Disappointing, Entertaining, Fluffy, Disjointed

See it if You're a fan of Woody Guthrie or want to learn more about his life.

Don't see it if You expect a show that draws any parallels between his music and his life or history. They might have but sound was BAD-couldn't hear A LOT!

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Enjoyable

See it if you like Woody Guthrie songs & being entertained by good foot stomping music... Cast has been performing show for 10 years... Quite polished

Don't see it if you are expecting a complete biography of Woody's life, as LOTS has been left out...

Woody goody

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.

Also A pure delight. After a decade of touring, this quartet runs like a Sw... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Refreshing, Resonant, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you'd love attending what is basically a very well performed concert of folk music with connective narration about the life of Woody Guthrie

Don't see it if you don't like folk music, don't care about Woody Guthrie, or prefer more traditional book musicals.

Delightful, Relevant, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You like songs like "This Land Is Your Land". Want to learn about Woody Guthrie and hard times for poor Americans.

Don't see it if Want Woody"s complete story. Lots of holes in the script. Don't let that stop you though. These 4 musician/actors great. Lead Obie worthy

Ambitious, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if you like folk music and want to know more about Middle America during the Depression. More a history lesson with snippets of Woody's music.

Don't see it if you do not like folk music. The cast of four are musically muli talented.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Refreshing, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if You are interested in a quick survey of Woody Guthrie's life and music. He has such an impressive songbook.

Don't see it if You want something more in depth. While I enjoyed the music, it was difficult to have an emotional connection.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if Your a fan of Woody Guthrie and his music

Don't see it if If would rather learn about Woody in a little depth

Delightful, Enchanting, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if cast of four present a delightful tale (with songs) about the life of Woody Guthrie. About 16-20 instruments used by the four talents.

Don't see it if if you do not like folk music.

Delightful, Must see, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You like a a play about the life and music of Woody Guthrie with excellent sings.

Don't see it if You do not want to see a good show.

Clever, Intelligent, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you have an interest in Guthrie's music or the history of the US in the 20th century. Like an evening of mostly music with minimal staging

Don't see it if you don't like the music of Woody Guthrie

Relevant, Entertaining, Tuneful, Well staged and acted, Wonderful musicians

See it if you are liberally minded and enjoy folk songs or if you want to learn about Woody Guthrie.

Don't see it if you support Trump's travel ban and/or don't believe in unions.

Relevant, Disappointing, Slow, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if Powerful musical tribute to folk/activist Woody Guthrie. Lutken's majestic portrayal of Guthrie captures both vocal & physical attributes

Don't see it if Too many songs cheat us out of a more telling book; rather surface depict of Guthrie but potent reminder that the "good fight" never ends

Delightful, Resonant, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if For a rousing musical tour through Woody Guthrie's life, music, care for the working man by an excellent ensemble playing all instruments

Don't see it if You don't like musical singalong but even if you don't care for his music or politics this is an endearing group and feel good theater

Delightful, Relevant, Disappointing, Entertaining, Great folk songs

See it if You want to learn about the man and the music that reflected the life of many during the depression through WWII.

Don't see it if You are looking for powerful voices or masterful acting. You don't like folk music.

Intelligent, Intense, Riveting, Great singing, Great musicianship

See it if you want a glorious 2 hrs of music/ words. WS is loaded w talent, esply the charismatic "Woody." WS'll delight your ears and open your heart

Don't see it if you need a narrative arc. WS is a concert, with a bit of biography. WG lived the life he sang about, so the songs are woven in seamlessly.

Also You will be thrilled by the musicianship. All four actors play multipl... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Intelligent, Entertaining, Great musicians

See it if you have fond memories of Woody Guthrie or want to know more about his life. Try to see the exhibit before upstairs before the show starts.

Don't see it if you never heard of Woody Guthrie or don’t like folk music

Also I am old enough to have listened to many songs by Woody Guthrie and hi... Read more Read less