Woody Sez is a tribute to the life of Woodrow Wilson Guthrie that is told through his music. Guthrie lived during tumultuous times and there was a lot of darkness in his life. Fire burned down his family home. Other fires killed and maimed beloved family members. There was the dust bowl, the depression, divorce and Huntington’s Disease which claimed the life of the mother he adored and took his own life at the age of 55.
Yet David M. Lutken, who conceived the play with director Nick Corley, brings lightness to the telling of his story through the 30+ songs which include the well-known to the more obscure. Mr. Lutken, who plays Woody, is quite charismatic and like his three fellow actors is extraordinarily talented. They all play a variety of instruments including guitar, mandolin, bass, fiddle, and even spoons. The songs connect anecdotal stories about Guthrie’s life that range from sweet touching moments from his childhood, to his involvement in political activism, to moments of despair and desperation as he is imprisoned in his own body by disease. The cast keeps you fully engrossed while listening to what Woody says. Sometimes they bring you close to tears and at other times you find yourself clapping and singing along to the folk songs.
While Woody Sez isn’t an all-encompassing biography of his life nor his politics, it is an entertaining piece of theater. Theaterworks in Hartford, CT is a great small regional theater with not a bad seat in the house. They even serve snacks and drinks. This is the perfect setting in which to see Woody Sez because it allows the actors to connect with the audience on a very intimate level, just as Woody would have done. LAR
Note: After the Sunday performances the cast invites the audience (and local residents) to join them in a hootenanny in the lobby of the building that houses the theater. This was, literally, a hoot!
Woody Sez – The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie
City Arts on Pearl 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, CT, 860-527-7838
Ticket price: $50, senior and student discounts available