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Articles and Reviews

Woody Sez

****

ANDREA MULLANEY

E4 UDDERBELLY'S PASTURE (VENUE 300)

IT MAKES sense to tell Woody Guthrie's story through song and through his own words. In chronicling the lives of the Dustbowl refugees, of the union activists bravely risking their necks, of the freight train hobos crossing states, he was forming his own legend as a symbol of a better America.

This partisan portrait celebrates the man and the spirit which drove him and others to "just keep on" when things seemed bleak there (just like, well, now).

Guthrie's childhood was as unsettled as his later wanderings. His tragic mother, battling fits of rage caused by undiagnosed Huntington's disease, taught him traditional ballads when she was well. But a series of fires, which killed his sister, burnt down their home and injured his father, led to her being sent to an asylum and Woody was pretty much out on his own from then on.

A scene of him receiving the news of her death, from the illness he'd likely inherit, with an enclosed $1.50 which was all she left him, is sensitively not drawn out: the sad facts are enough.

Guthrie was driven from Texas by the drought, taking his wife and children to California, where he became a radio performer until his increasingly political songs frightened the sponsors. The show touches on Guthrie's involvement with union activism - Woody Sez was the title of his Daily Worker column - as he travelled with Pete Seeger to perform for any picket line they could find. But he couldn't fight Huntington's, which eventually took his ability to play just before the 1960s folk boom saw him gain a legion of fans.

The four performers, led by Broadway regular David Lutken, act, sing and play various instruments beautifully, from bass to spoons via guitars, banjo, mouth organ, on a number of lively songs which enliven the biographical details.

Their obvious enjoyment is infectious and the whole show, without being at all amateur, feels like hanging out with some nice folks.

Woody Sez is the kind of simple, old-fashioned show which can get overlooked in the hyped-up Fringe. I hope it doesn't, as it does what it sets out to do perfectly.

• Until 27 August. Today 1.35pm
Dear Friends:
I've just returned from Edinburgh and the rave reviews for WOODY SEZ are starting to pour in...(See Below). In addition the BBC Scotland is doing a piece on us tomorrow. Hopefully more to come.
Thanks to all of you that supported this project and helped us get up on our feet in Edinburgh! The cast is having a great time and the audiences are standing and cheering daily!

From The Scotsman-Their version of the NY Times.
http://www.edinburgh-festivals.com/reviews.cfm?id=1286022007

From The List-Their Time/Out NY
An Article: http://www.list.co.uk/article/2727-woody-sez/

A review: http://www.list.co.uk/article/3808-woody-sez/

From 3 Weeks-Their official newspaper of the Fringe Festival
http://edinburgh.threeweeks.co.uk/detail_review.asp?id=4843

Most importantly...From the Fringe Audience members (blogs, e-mails etc.) Quite wonderful and worth reading!
http://www.edfringe.com/reviews/read.html?id=5910

Also, check out our web site to hear some of the tunes the cast does and see some photos: www.woodysez.com


All MY Best,
Larry

Larry Hirschhorn
Artistic Director

Melting Pot Theatre Company
2440 Broadway, Suite 197 (PLEASE NOTE NEW ADDRESS!!!!)
New York, NY 10024

212-874-7210
212-874-6054 (FAX)
www.meltingpottheatre.com
an email with a bunch of review links - The Melting Pot Theatre (Aug 16, 2007)