Woody Sez Opens Cleveland Playhouse Season Tonight @ Allen Theater
Cleveland Play House enthusiastically brings to Northeast Ohio audiences the internationally acclaimed West End hit Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie. This incredible production about the celebrated musician and iconic leader of the American Folk Movement, Woodie Guthrie, will take Cleveland Play House’s stage from Sept. 13 – Oct. 6 in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare.
This tumultuous, tragic, touching and joyful tale of “America’s greatest folk poet,” told in his own words, and featuring “Bound for Glory,” “Pastures of Plenty,” “The Ballad of Tom Joad,” “This Land is Your Land,” and two-dozen more of Woody Guthrie’s indelible protest songs, is vividly brought to life by the incredible cast of David M. Lutken (Deviser/Musical Director), Helen Jean Russell (Co-Deviser), David Finch and Leenya Rideout , along with Director and Co-Deviser Nick Corley.
A joyful, uplifting narrative about a difficult man’s difficult life during difficult times, Woody Sez is a tale of struggle, activism, patriotism and commitment. Guthrie’s songs have become ambassadors of the best of the American spirit. CPH Interim Artistic Director Laura Kepley notes “Woody Sez is a joyous celebration of Woody Guthrie and his gutsy, challenging and patriotic voice but also a tribute to our fellow Americans who fought through those early decades of the 20th century with courage, resilience and hope. Guthrie’s legacy inspires us to speak truth to power and to unite for justice.”
Introduced at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2007, Woody Sez has played Glasgow, Belfast, Munich, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and the West End. The 2013-14 production includes Cleveland Play House, Milwaukee Repertory Theater and Syracuse Stage, followed by visits to New Zealand and China.
Lyn Gardner, theatre critic for The Guardian, wrote of the London engagement: “This low-key, high- spirited celebration of Guthrie's life and music knocks big West End biopics into a heap of dust.” Writing about the production at Theater J, Peter Marks of The Washington Post said, “The musicianship is first-class; the cast effortlessly adapts to the rousing spirit of the songwriter’s heartland balladeering and protest music. It’s pleasant to be reminded that once upon a time in America, raising one’s voice in dissent could make for some beautiful music.”
The performance, in the folk tradition, is unamplified and authentic. The show and the musical arrangements incorporate over twenty acoustic instruments.