One night after the high-powered  production of If/Then at The National, it was back to acoustic  instruments and the homespun inspiration of the original ramblin’ boy Woody Guthrie, as our student subscribers’ final outing of the semester  saw us  return to Theater J on another historic Friday night performance.  Historic because this time we were following the   Shabbat performance with a Shabbat Hootenanny sing-along which included songs with Cantor Michael Zoosman (husband to our Director of Community Outreach and New Media, Molly Winston). So in addition to old standby Bob Dylan (“The Times They Are A Changing,” “Blowin’ In The Wind),” “Town-O,” “500 Miles” and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?” led by Woody Sez cast members Leenya Rideout and David Finch, we had Cantor Mike leading us on “Tumbalalaika” and “Oseh Shalom” and “Bim Bam Shabbat Shalom.” A perfect Jewish summer camp fusion. Check out a clip from the Shabbat Hootenanny sing-along here:

Woody Sez Shabbat Hootenanny Sing a long from Theater J on Vimeo.

But what did last night’s audience make of the entirety of the experience? The contrast of two such different musicals in Woody and If/Then? The construction of the show? The relevance of the lyrics? How does Woody read to a generation of early 20-somethings?  Eager to read.

And I encourage y’all to peruse back to other postings of Woody Sez. Review some other write-ups of our hootenannies and see some footage too. Check out a round up of Woody Sez’s recent summer trip to Israel.Woody Sez at Arlozorov Encampment

There’s another hoot this Sunday night at 9:45 — and a final one next Saturday night (closing night), December 14 at 9:45 again.  Bring instruments.  Come for the finale!Hootenanny-7


“Woody Sez” Rolls On With More Hoots

27 thoughts on ““Woody Sez” Rolls On With More Hoots

  1. Just one night after attending my first musical this semester, “If/Then”, I saw my second, “Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie.” I enjoyed “Woody Sez” just as much, or nearly as much, as “If/Then”, but for different reasons. One of the immediate reasons that I was drawn into the story was that, having spent substantial periods of my life in Oklahoma and having been a fan of folk music for quite some time, I was already quite familiar with Guthrie’s music and influence, and was quite interested to see how the production portrayed his life. I found the path of the narrative to be somewhat confusing at times, as it jumped from one time period to the next without any warning and sometimes lacking in others as it seemed as though the details of his personal life were taking something of a backseat to his music at times, but overall I found it to be quite well done. I thought that the way the play dealt with his mother’s illness and his young sister’s untimely death was very well done and that the script relaying those events was exceptionally strong, and layered with emotional meanings. I also felt that the sequence discussing Woody’s time during the Dust Bowl was a quite well put together piece of theater and felt that it easily relayed the complexity and manifold factors that went into his development as musician. I was somewhat disappointed by the lack of a broad discussion of his influence on folk music more largely, such as what impacts he had on Dylan and other folk artists in the years before his death. To explain, I felt as though the play telescoped his life a little bit in the second half and the ending almost felt too abrupt, almost too simple. Overall, however, I greatly enjoyed the production and the exceptional music that came along with it.

  2. I LOVE MUSICALS! I didn’t expect to enjoy Woody Sez as much as I did. I thought the genre of music would be a barrier to my enjoyment but the songs were all fantastic. I loved the way that all the musicians would switch the instruments that they were playing throughout the play. The characters voices were all beautiful and the singing was really fun.

    I enjoyed how different Woody Sez was from If/Then. Woody Sez was almost a documentary type musical. Some of the play was story telling while other parts were more acting like we have seen in the other plays this semester. Sometimes the actors would address the audience directly and at one point one of the characters utilized the front row of the audience to help him play the spoons. It was a very unique way to tell the story that was extremely enjoyable.

    I loved the way the story allowed us to see the personal life of Woody while still putting forth a political critique and a bit of the history of the times. The unique composition of the musical kept me interested the entire time. Throughout this semester I’ve started to understand the lengths productions go through to stand out and be different. We saw that in Detroit with the unique stage set up, we saw it in If/Then with the two stories simultaneously playing out, as if you were looking at parallel universes distinguished by background lighting, and we saw it here in Woody Sez where the show was somewhere between a concert and a play. I’ve truly gained an appreciation for the effort it takes to make a show stand out. I think I’ve also realized that I really enjoy musicals more than plays, though I feel you can learn lessons easier from plays than from musicals.

    • Hi Lisa,
      I also found the narrative to be a quite interesting choice and also felt that the way that it was used to interact with the audience was incredibly effective and added immensely to the play. I was particularly interested by your last comment on the length that plays go to to stand out. It was something that I had not thought of explicitly before, but something that really makes sense, as you start to illustrate in your examples. Your comment got me thinking about some of the other ways that plays have used their settings/set to stand out in subtle ways. And I discovered that, from the intentional intimacy of the Apple Family plays to the unique stage setup of “After the Revolution”, each of the plays that we have seen this term did seem to employ some technique to stand out, something that I probably would not have considered without your comment.

    • Lisa,
      I also thought the genre of music would be a barrier to my enjoyment of Woody Sez, but I really enjoyed to the show too. I also agree that the interaction between the actors and the audience made it unique. However, I found it hard to follow the story. I noticed the political critique, but I found it difficult to keep track of Woody’s life events. I wish that I had known more about him before going to the show so I would have understood the musical better.
      I had not noticed the various aspects that productions use to be unique. I think that is a very interesting point and something to considering when looking at all the plays we have watched this semester.

    • Likewise, I really liked the play’s flow between concert and musical. Now that I have seen it that way, it would be hard for me to say that his story could be told as effectively any other way. The effort put into the play not just by the performers but by the set designers who took efforts to wear away the floor and give the play an comfortable, worn feel and the little details like the worn away parts of his shoes were ones that someone thought about quite a lot– and those little details deserve to be appreciated just as much.

      I also really liked how the actors directly addressed the audience– asking us to clap, tuning their instruments, and walking into the audience (even dancing with them) added to the feel that we were simply sitting in a very intimate concert.

    • I LOVE MUSICALS TOO! I was a bit skeptical about going to see this one, because I did not think I would be able to sit through folk music for so long. But it was such a pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed the way it was presented –and I’m not as sure if I would have enjoyed learning about the life of Woodie Guthrie if his story had not been presented the way it was –with acting but also accompanied by his touching and influential music. The musical aspect made for a fun and exciting experience even while telling a story that had some melancholy moments.

  3. What a way to end the semester of theater performances. Woody Sez was both a wonderful experience and a very relevant one at that. Having grown up on the music of Woody Guthrie, the experience brought me back to when Woody’s songs would play through our stereo system. But the theatrical experience, provided by the phenomenally talented and captivating cast of Woody Sez, was also relevant to my experience living here in DC. Working in the arts, specifically arts education, in the ever-bureaucratic city of Washington DC has been a lot of feelings. It has been rewarding, enriching, often frustrating, and valuable. Yet, while all of these different emotions come and go, the care and passion for arts education still remains. As I watched Woody Sez and the story of Woody Guthrie’s various experiences, I took note of how everything Woody did was for what he cared about: social change and music. I look up to what Woody Guthrie did for the world as an activist and musician, and this sentiment was clearly delivered in the performance, leaving me empowered and inspired to be more like Woody. Additionally, for our Museums class we had taken a tour of the Smithsonian Folkways earlier in the semester, where Woody Guthrie recorded a lot of his songs when he visited DC. Watching and participating in the play really brought my experience in DC full circle, having encountered the material from Woody’s life and his ideals in two of my classes, in the heart of my internship, and in my personal passion and goals. Apart from my own relationship with the material in the play, I thought the delivery was really well done, given the lack of props and set. Additionally, the musicianship was incredible, I was delighted and quite jealous of how talented the cast was and how many instruments they could each play while still delivering Woody’s story. It’s been a great semester and Woody Sez was both a conclusive and reflective way to reflect upon my experience, personally and in the arts, in DC.

  4. I am not a fan of folk music, but I had a fantastic time watching the performance of Woody Sez at Theater J on Friday. David M. Lutken, David Finch, Leenya Rideout, and Helen Jean Russell are very talented. I really enjoyed watching the four of them perform such a large variety of instruments. They did an outstanding job of captivating the audience with their musical and theatrical talent.

    While both Woody Sez and If/Then were musicals, they were very different. On the outside they were different because If/Then had so many elaborate scenes and Woody Sez had one simple scene. If/Then had many actors and costume changes, but Woody Sez only had four actors that did not change clothes for the entire performance. Theater J is much more intimate than the National Theater and the audiences at each play were different. Apart from all the visible differences, the plots of the two shows were also different. If/Then had two plots intertwined into one show. Woody Sez had one fairly weak plot. One aspect that the shows had in common was that it was difficult to follow their plots. If/Then was confusing because there was too much going on and Wood Sez was confusing because the plot seemed to get lost behind the music. While neither show was greatly affected by these confusions, they both could be strengthened through clarifying their plots.

    Similarly to If/Then, I felt that the singing in Woody Sez made it harder to emphasize with the characters. Woody Guthrie lived a hard life, but it was difficult to feel bad for him in this production. Through viewing Woody Sez and If/Then, I think that I am happier during musicals than regular plays because I have a harder time connecting to the actors’ emotions because they are singing. In many of the plays we have watched this semester I was pulled into the show emotionally which left me drained at the end of the performance. I do not think that this makes either type of performance better, just different.

    • I agree in that musical plays are definitely more entertaining. The art in music is so flexible and could be taken many ways, voice ranges, and rhythms. I also did not feel that much sympathy for Woody and his issues, for at least he lived a very fruitful life and had an amazing career. His legacy influenced so many artists like Bob Dylan and Peet Seeger. I still felt captivated in their messages and narratives outlined in the play, which was a lack I felt in IF/THEN. Both plays though were well done, although on different scales.
      Wood Sez gave me a cultural insight into folk music and the times that created some of the best artist in that genre

  5. The play Woody Sez was a production like no other I have witnessed thus far. The life of Woody was very interesting in that he was a guy who just followed his passion and love for music and humanity. I like that the JCC produced the play because members in the Jewish community culturally influenced Woody.
    In those times, the Jewish culture of anti-fascism, pro-labor, and classic socialist activism widely influenced American poetry, modern dance, and music. Woody and his artwork were no exception. Guthrie’s wife and mother in law joined their musical talents. Through his music, he expressed difficulties that he saw conflicting both Jews and his fellow Okies and other oppressed people throughout the world. Their successful collaborations were popular in 1940’s Brooklyn, and validated the passions felt by many social activists fighting for change. Woody’s universal spirit carried on in the cities of Israel this year, which attest to the centrality or uniting force of his life’s work. Woody Sez was seen for the first time in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem in August. The play incorporated anecdotes, biographies, humor and a good old musical celebration igniting the audience with song and dance.
    The music was very different than what I am accustomed to hearing in a musical, however the musicality kept me in tuned. I found myself tapping my right heal to the infectious beats. The acting was extremely believable and made me feel as if they knew him or grew up in his ways back in those days.
    He was a peaceful promoting spirit with love of people. The best way he tried to make everyone realize this was through the medium of good old folk songs. In the play, Woody tells us, “I’ve been all around this world and I know more about those Arab villages, those Sicilian bombed-out towns, those British cities knocked to their knees and all 48 of the United State of America; I know more about these people because of the songs I heard them sing than any words I heard them speak in their own native tongues.”

    • Kevin,

      I agree that this type of folk music was unlike any other type of music that I was accustomed to, yet I found myself clapping along and stomping my feet to nearly every song. I will say however, that had I known more about the life of the character I would have enjoyed it more because I would have been able to sing along more. However, the play does a great job of incorporating all of the audience through calling on audience participation. Even though I didn’t know much about Guthrie, I felt myself engaged at each point of the production.

  6. Woody Sez could perhaps be one of my most memorable theater experiences. Though not the most captivating storyline for my generation (as I am sure for those who grew up humming Woody Guthrie, the play probably brought back memories of growing up in the Great Depression and through the World Wars), this was one of the most captivating overall plays I have seen. Whether it was David Lutken’s irresistible charm or the incredible talent displayed, something about Woody Sez had me smiling throughout the whole show.

    I made a special effort to look back at the audience at different points during the play to capture the feeling in the audience. I just thought, what does it say about this show when every person in this audience has a smile on their face and an extra twinkle in their eye? From the youngest person in the audience to the oldest. Though with the talent on the stage, how could they not? For each cast member to be able to pick up 7-8 different stringed instruments throughout the course of the play while singing and moving about the stage showcases a rare amount of talent.

    I took away from the story of the play though, a deeper realization of the struggles that my grandparents and their parents faced growing up in the early 1900’s. Woody lost both his sister and his daughter, and often did not know where the next meal would come from. The majority, if not all of us, have never had to think about even just one of the struggles mentioned, nonetheless all of them. I was certainly humbled at what I considered challenging in my own life.

    If all theater was able to create the atmosphere that the cast of Woody Sez did, theater-going would be such a pleasant experience.

    • Hey Madison! I think its great that you took a look back at the audience and really made an effort to consider how this musical was being received. I remember at one point I heard an audience member join in with the actors as they were singing. At first I was really annoyed that someone was disturbing my play-going experience. Now that I think about it though, singing along just shows how wonderful of an experience this was for those who had the opportunity to be there, and it is kind of a plus to think someone was happy enough to join in. Some of that appreciation came after the sing along that was after the show. First of all it was great to see our professor strumming along and singing. Then it was great to feel the warmth and community that comes from many people singing together. My personal favorite was when we got to sing some songs for shabbat, something I haven’t had a chance to do in years.

    • I was humbled too, Madison. I think the cast did a superb job of communicating the sentiments of that time period in a way that made it feel relevant to today. Yet, there aren’t many Woody Guthrie’s in the music scene, or really in the activist scene, nowadays. Maybe there are but they clearly don’t reach as many as Woody did. I think that while feeling humbled by the play and the story of Woody’s life (plus, the fantastic music, as you noted), I also couldn’t help but feel desire for more Woody Guthries, more musicians who care about the world and taking action against the wrongs within it. I’m sure many donate their money to causes, but I wish there was more tangible hands-on action, similar to the protests and “outspoken” acts of Woody, in efforts to change problems within our society. I’m glad that Woody Sez gave me this, as you said, humbling, yet empowering feeling. It’s a great transformative, uplifting feeling to leave the theater with!

    • Madison, I completely agree with you that this production was a truly enjoyable experience. The cast members all have remarkable talent and abilities, as they can act, sing, and play multiple musical instruments without thinking twice. Many of the productions we saw this semester left the audience with tears in their eyes, anguish in their souls, and pain in their hearts. However, this production kept the audience from focusing too much on the sadness of Woody’s life, even when Woody describes the deaths of his daughter and sister. Although we saw the struggles and pains that Woody faced throughout his life, I was able to watch this production without becoming too emotionally involved. Instead, I was simply able to enjoy it, just like the rest of the audience.

    • Hey Madison,

      Your comments at the end really touched me. I, too, thought about the kind of hardships Woody went through during his lifetime. It made me so miserable and so empathetic, perhaps more than I have ever felt for another individual. Maybe this is because of the actors or maybe it’s because those are the kind of stories that tug at my heart strings, I don’t know. But it’s true what you said in that this play humbled me. I think for me that the play, as well as the older audience members, made me feel quite humble. It was very enriching to see so many individuals, of all ages and backgrounds, appreciate a performance like this. Great post.

    • Madison,

      You and I both hold a deep appreciation for the extraordinary musicality and musical ability of the performers. Your observations of the audience, both young and old, compliment what many others have said on this blog about the general appeal of the show. Adam, who was quite familiar with Woody Guthrie, found this experience to be a perfect way to round out his semester in D.C.. Even though I am unfamiliar with Woody Guthrie, I too felt the same way and greatly enjoyed the performance. Looking back at this semester, I think it is a mark of good (and probably profitable) theater when the insights and reaction of audience members can be somewhat taken apart from their prior knowledge of (or lack thereof) and dedication to the subject matter and “Woody Sez” definitely achieves this: this production not only only resonates with Woody Guthrie fans.

  7. Woody Sez was such an enjoyable show for me. The production itself was relaxed, yet the characters were still very energetic. The music kept me tapping my shoe throughout the show, and the story line kept me entertained without emotionally overwhelming me. It was the perfect production for a Friday night at the end of finals week.

    I personally knew very little about Woody Guthrie and his musical impact on the country. I enjoyed seeing the growth and evolution of the character and the change in his music as time passed throughout the musical. However, I also enjoyed the miniature history lesson that was given throughout the production. I am quite familiar with the Great Depression and the circumstances surrounding it, yet my history classes rarely covered the cultural impact of the economic situation. This musical provided with a face to go along with the many history lessons I have had on the Great Depression and the years following it.

    This production was very different from the musical, If/Then, that our class saw Thursday evening at the National Theatre. Both productions were entertaining and enjoyable for different reasons. Woody Sez had a very simple set design that allowed the audience to focus simply on the music, lines, and lyrics. If/Then had much more glitz throughout the production, which took my attention away from the tunes and acting.

    Although I did not have as much of a personal connection with Woody Sez as I had with If/Then, I was still able to relate to the story. (Luckily, I was born and raised in Texas, so I have a strong appreciation for country music.) The story line was very different from any of the other productions we had seen throughout the semester. Most productions were setting in the present, or near present, period, yet this musical was set years before we were born! However, the upbeat performances, humor, and audience interaction kept the production from feeling dated and made it appropriate for an audience of all ages.

    • Hi there Casey,

      I like the contrast you drew between “If/Then” and “Woody Sez.” Even though our last two plays were both musicals, there were perhaps even more different from each other than the rest of the non-musical plays. Even the way music was used as a medium for story-telling was completely different. Hard to make a judgment on which was better, but I completely agree about that foot-tapping folksy feeling that Woody Sez so effortlessly produced…made me want to strum on a guitar and hop in a hootenanny!

  8. Hands down, bar none, this performance was the absolute best! Woody Sez had this hokey feeling like you were right at home and just as gitchy as the characters on stage. As a musician, I really appreciated the real-time performances of the actors on stage– it sounded great!

    But what’s so interesting about this play though is that it kind of wasn’t a play. At some points I felt like I was at a concert. Perhaps in another performance I wouldn’t have been a fan of it, but I really liked it for Woody Sez. It still seemed personal. In fact, I think it kind of captured the spirit of Woody. Although I never heard of Wood Guthrie before this play, the way his life was told and described made it seem like that’s how he would have wanted it. And I loved it. There were even parts of the play where there was audience interaction, and I have never seen an audience more entranced than the audience for Woody Sez.

    Even though my experience with this play is more about my actual feelings about the performance itself, there were some notable tidbits that I picked up on. Although Woody lived a fairly short life—given his genetic disease for Huntington’s— he had a lot of important messages to share. Most were political, but all the aphorisms that were dropped throughout the play also hinted to general principles about how to live life. It was endearing. All in all, Woody Guthrie seemed like the kind of man who lived in the moment, one day at time, and all the while he tried to share what he thought was important.

    • Dominique, I agree with you that Woody Sez did not really seem like a play. It definitely had a different feel to it. As though it was more of a concert like you said, coupled with great storytelling. The story almost seemed like a conversation. It was intimate and personal, as though Woody was an old friend regaling us with stories about his life. I really appreciate the intimacy of this play-it was very homey in this sense. I also think because I am not a musician I am even more amazed by the actors’ musical capabilities. I know you appreciated their talent as a musician yourself, but for someone who cannot carry a tune on any instrument, let alone for or five, I was blown away.

  9. I grew up as a festival brat. While most children anticipate summer camp, I anticipated Bliss Fest and Wheatland– two folk and bluegrass festivals my parents and I attended every year. Rules on being politically correct or forming to societal expectations seemed to be thrown partially out of the window and I found the freedom of running about barefoot, speaking to entirely too many strangers, dancing on impromptu stages, playing music.
    So, in many ways watching Woody Sez, with its message on class divide and it’s intimate concert feel encouraged nostalgia for me.

    Unfortunately, despite my folk-sy past, I was unfamiliar with Woody Guthrie (much to the disappointment of my parents); however, I found getting to know him via this intimate play-concert to be quite enjoyable. The script flowed quite well,with appropriate ups and downs that didn’t detract from the biographical telling of his life nor his message.

    Furthermore, I found myself so impressed with the musical talent of the cast as they effortlessly moved through character to character and instrument to instrument. Truly, they brought every moment to life (excuse my cliche).
    The performance and the message made for a very inspiring theater going experience, to be certain.

  10. Entering into Theatre J’s production of Woody Sez, I knew little to nothing about the acclaimed folk singer, Woody Guthrie. I was slightly nervous entering into this play for this reason. Although I went into the production knowing little of the singer, I still found the play interesting and well told.

    The play was unlike any other production that we have seen at Theatre J because it was less serious than the other productions, it was audience inclusive, and it was a musical. Having seen a musical the prior night, I found Woody Sez to be different than the production of If/Then as well. Woody Sez featured less elaborate musical numbers, had a less elaborate stage, and only featured 4 characters. I cannot say that I enjoyed one production over the other because I enjoyed them differently. I enjoyed If/Then for being a more expansive production with an elaborate central theme and I enjoyed Woody Sez for being a more low-key biographical depiction focused on retelling the life of Woody Guthrie through his songs.

    I found that each production was different. This was new to me because I believed that typical plays could be different because they could be focused on a wide array of topics, believing that they had more freedom than musicals do in deciding on a theme. I am not sure if I came to belief from watching episodes of Glee, especially recent episodes where their isn’t much variance on the storyline and it seems like music is the central focus and the storyline is built around it. Because of this, I entered into both of these musicals expecting the storyline to be built around the music, however I found that the songs complimented the storyline rather than vice-versa. From the two plays: If/Then and Woody Sez, I have discovered that musicals have options. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how different each production could be and ultimately was.

  11. What a way to end a semester of theatergoing in D.C. Thursday night we saw the musical “If/Then” and Friday evening we returned to Theater J for our final show of the semester, “Woody Sez”.

    As I read the various reactions of my classmates, many took on a comparison of the two musicals. The difference that stood out most to me was that the intimate Theater J musical demanded more of the actors than the high-budget production “If/Then”. The actors had to be musicians first and actors second. With musicianship comes another whole world of etiquette, performance, audience interaction, and “acting” that I thought was masterfully done by the quartet of musicians, vocalists, and actors. Being an actor and being a musician (that play multiple instruments nonetheless) are two interrelated but different crafts. And therefore, the actors in “Woody Sez” gained my respect and appreciation on Friday night. It is as if the aims and styles of both a musical concert and theatrical production were resoundingly accomplished.

    I did not know much about the life and music of Woody Guthrie. The interspersed musical numbers and narratives about Guthrie slowly painted a picture in my mind and did not require the mental investment of “If/Then” that, for most, was expended without effect. The most telling scenes for me were Guthrie’s performances at local radio stations where he incensed many producers who were too focused on the 3 C’s of consumerism, corporatism, and capitalism. The lighting was purposeful and actually enhanced the story-telling that took place on a generally barren stage. The final well-known musical number, “This Land is Your Land”, was a fitting way to end a musical about a man who wrote uplifting music about the struggles of the working class, family life, and American engagements overseas. This musical was one of my favorite productions of the season.

  12. Now that I have seen two musicals back to back on two consecutive nights, it is inevitable to make a comparison. I am surprised to find that these two musicals are drastically different. I would say If/Then is more focused on the development of the storyline while Woody Sez is more about performance of the songs. Woody Sez felt like a live concert that features bits of background on Woody’s life being retold in between the songs. Another reason the play felt like a concert is because of the amount of audience participation involved. I am surprised to see actors talking straight to the audience and even more shocked to watch them coming down from the stage to interact with us, inviting everyone to clap and even to dance with the cast. The cast engages the audience and keeps us energized throughout the whole play. Getting the audience involved in the musical also adds to the portrayal of the cheery, down to earth and hearty personality of Woody Gutherie.

    I didn’t know the violin could be played in so many ways. I didn’t know so many string instruments played on stage even existed. I have not heard of Woody Gutherie and I am not usually much of a country/folk music fan. But I enjoyed all these new experiences. Ever since I saw the musical, I have been humming the song “This Train is Bound for Glory.” I really enjoyed the high energy exhibited by the actors and the harmonization of the music, and I am glad that that his musical has introduced me to a great song and an aspiring artist.

  13. While I am a lover of musicals, I was unsure how I would react to “Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie”, the mere idea of 2 hours of folk music, initially made me apprehensive. While, I can not say that the production suddenly made me a fan of folk music, I was pleasantly surprised with the show, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. The actors were all very talented, having wonderful voices and each playing multiple instruments. I thought the way the show chronicled Guthrie’s life was very well done, switching between Guthrie’s songs and interludes and narrations. I had never heard of Mr. Guthrie, though I was surprised I did know some of his work –well I knew “this land is your land” – however, I instantly took a liking to him. He was obviously a very outspoken, honest and courageous man –speaking the truth about the state of poor people in America, in public spheres, where most people were too scared to do so. I appreciated that Mr. Guthrie had the gall and the valor to resist the status quo, he was truly a voice of the people. I appreciated the emotions I felt surface while watching the play, I felt happiness as the catchy tunes caused me to tap my feet and clap my hands, and then moments of very deep sadness as Mr. Guthrie obviously lived a very grim life his home burned as a little boy, his older sister died from a fire, his youngest daughter died from a fire, his mother battled a mental disease, and later he too suffered from the same disease. While I was upset he initially was not given credit for the influence he had on folk music, I am happy to see that productions like this ensure that his legacy is served justice. While I may not be any more of a fan of folk music than I already was, I am definitely a fan of what Woody stood for.

  14. I really enjoyed Woody Sez! I was surprised by how much I loved it after my last blog rant about disliking musicals. I also don’t really like folksy/country music. But I truly loved the songs in Woody Sez. So maybe I have a new appreciation for folk music. The production also weaved together an excellent story that was both captivating and powerful. It was also a little sad. There was a lot of death and destruction that occurred—and interestingly a lot of the destruction was caused by fire. I thought about what this recurring theme of fire might mean. The constant presence of fire throughout the play seemed to point to the inevitable nature of destruction. That maybe we cannot prevent things falling apart. That maybe this is simply a part of life, and these experiences can make us stronger. Perhaps it is important to not dwell on the negative things that happen, but to grow from them and appreciate all of the other positive aspects of life. But despite what negativity occurred, the positive spirit of Woody’s music was unrelenting. I really admired Woody’s bravery. He was never afraid to be candid about his political ideas. He never cared about who might not agree with him. He sang about social inequality and economic discrepancies in our nation, especially in Oklahoma and the Midwest.

    I also was totally impressed with how many instruments the cast played! Each of them played about four different instruments. They also played and sang- what was it 60? of his songs during the play although Woody has upwards of 1,000! Their ability to memorize lines, and songs, and their instruments was absolutely fascinating. A great end to an awesome semester!

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