The Woodsman at 59e59

broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/10/14 at 03:14pm
Was able to catch The Woodsman (a showcase production) at 59e59. As a very avid fan of L. Frank Baum's writings, I am trying to step away and look objectively at the work. It is a mostly faithful adaption of the story of Nick Chopper, the man who would be the Tin Woodman, compiled from Baum's 13 Oz books.
At one hour, it's a very interesting hybrid... More performance piece than play. Aside from the oprning monologue, there is no spoken dialogue.. Mime, dance, breath vocalizations, manually created sound effects (perfection!)... All set to an original score performed by the college-aged composer on violin with occasional lyrics that serve as a soundtrack.
In a small black box space, the physical production is quite impressive and very much on the vein of Storytime Theatre. Boxes and props are continually rearranged to compose the various locations, actors serve as scenic pieces, etc.
James Ortiz is the brains behind the operation... Wow, what work. He penned the script, co-directed, designed the scenery and puppets, and plays Nick.
The puppet work, primarily Bunraku style, is beautifully done and all are incredibly well made and impressive, easily rivally any of Taymor's work on The Lion King. Especially striking is Nick's transformation from flesh to Tin in pieces, the Witch of the East meeting her fate, and most breathtaking is a three person Kalidah puppet that fills the stage and even fights two actors. Wow.
Fan123
Understudy
joined:8/30/08
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/11/14 at 06:29am
This show sounds interesting. I only know the one Baum book, 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' itself, but I love the Tin Man backstory included there (you can read it in a few paragraphs by searching for the phrase ""I was born the son of a woodman" at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/55/55-h/55-h.htm). broadwayguy2, do you know what other details are added to that story in Baum's other books?

Show trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWYaQMgFZpg
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/11/14 at 11:44am
Fan,
There is quite a bit. Baum wrote 13 books, including "The Tin Woodman of Oz" where he sets off to find his long lost love, finds her and a few other interesting things, and also encounters his former human head...
This show is mostly faithful to what is in the first book.
Baum also, for better or worse, was never too concerned with continuity, so things can conflict... In one version, the Munchkin girl (Nimme) is the daughter of a woman who makes a bargain in the Witch. In a later book, she is the Witch's slave...
blaxx
Broadway Legend
joined:6/28/05
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/11/14 at 11:50am
I got a ticket for Saturday, sounds interesting.
Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/11/14 at 01:38pm
It took me a few minutes to adjust to the theatre and the opening monologue is, while true to Baum text, so wordy that I thought "Oh, god.. This is going to one of those drawn out We are ACTORS' experinces", but after a bit, I was hooke in. Honestly, the furst ten minutes of the show, establishing Nick's family, could be trimmed heavily and those minutes used elsewhere.
Matt Rogers
Broadway Star
joined:10/4/04
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/11/14 at 07:56pm
I was interested in this but sounds kind of wacky. And it's an hour? Is an hour the new 90 minutes in this attention span deprived 21st Century?
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/11/14 at 08:03pm
I wouldnt call it wacky at all. I had no idea what ro expect going in. I expected a one hour show with a short plot and dialogue. I was pleasantly aurprised and had to adjust my expectation and I left thinking that I was much more satisfied than I had been at many shows recently and was grateful to see a company of twenty somethings with twenty somethings producing creating something with passion and requiring each of them to be mutlitalented on stage and off.
Its an hour with no dialogue. Its also a showcase / workshop production. It has nothing to do with lack of attention. Honestly, they tell a full and expansive story. In a dialogue driven show, this would be a solid 2+ hours, but restricting to what would almost be a dance piece means it moves at a much quicker pace and covers a lot of ground in economic time.
Matt Rogers
Broadway Star
joined:10/4/04
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/11/14 at 08:16pm
Maybe as they continue to develop this, they can add an Act Two to it and cover the backstory of another Oz character.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/11/14 at 08:24pm
Sounds interesting!

Oh... and Baum wrote *14* major Oz books (plus various short pieces...) not 13.
AEA AGMA SM
Broadway Legend
joined:8/13/09
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/11/14 at 09:45pm
"Oh... and Baum wrote *14* major Oz books (plus various short pieces...) not 13."

Though I've seen some debate about just how much of the last book, Glinda of Oz, he wrote and how much was finished by others after his death.
Did you know that every day Mexican gays cross our borders and unplug our brain-dead ladies?
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/11/14 at 11:32pm
It's been a while, but while I've heard that, it's always read like Baum to me and I believe the book fairly closely follows Baum's manuscript which we know he wrote. On the other hand, Ruth Plumly Thompson's first Oz book, The Royal Book of Oz, usually credited to Baum or at least claiming to be from his notes, is very clearly entirely her own work...
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/12/14 at 12:06am
1. I apologize, I should have stated "13 authored / credited sequels.
2. Yes, authorship of "Glinda" is debated.
It's been a rather hectic few weeks, my brain is a tad scattered and I am not always fond of posting from my tablet, but i have been,,
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/12/14 at 12:09am
No need to apologize, it was beyond a nit-pick. I appreciated the show report (I hadn't even heard of it before...)
AEA AGMA SM
Broadway Legend
joined:8/13/09
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/12/14 at 12:37am
I have to admit that I only read a few of the Thompson books when I was younger and haven't gone back to them for re-reads the way I have the Baum novels, so I don't really remember how much her voice differed from Baum's in the telling of the stories.

Sadly I'm going to miss this one. I head out of town tomorrow for a job and won't be back until the middle of March. Ah well, maybe it will get a life beyond this showcase production.
Did you know that every day Mexican gays cross our borders and unplug our brain-dead ladies?
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/12/14 at 12:57am
Eric, it's okay, it WAS an error on my part that I missed. Safari mobile doesn't even show a spell check for me to gloss back over and the font is small in the reply box...

AEA, I hope it will. They previously had a run as part of a festival at Ars Nova, but with mo set, a somewhat diffrent cast and at keast one - based on pictures - significantly different puppet. The show has string bones and beautifully executed puppets and storytelling, so I hope they develop it further.
Fan123
Understudy
joined:8/30/08
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/12/14 at 03:14am
Thanks for the info, broadwayguy2, I should look up those other books.
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/12/14 at 03:29am
Very welcome!
Please do! The books get increasingly "out there" as they go along, but it is sad how relatively forgotten some of them are. Even the original Oz book always shocks people only familiar with the MGM incarnation.
In regards to the text of "Tin woodman of Oz", it is often strange and slightly morbid, but interesting.
If you have the inclination, read the books ins equential order and refer to history in the process to really see what influenced Baum. Book 1 began as a story for the kids around. Book 2 was written due to the success of the Wizard of Oz stage musical - where the Tinman and Scarecrow were stars.. You see the influence of World War 1 and Baum's continued influence from the women in his life who were very active in the Women's Rights movement.. Note in baum's Oz, the famle characters are almost always the driving force and nearly always are the ones who save the day... Strong, empowered women opposite often bumbling, comic men.
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/12/14 at 04:48am
The puppetry is imaginative, the staging adept, but frankly, the show is a grisly bore. Though only an hour, it seemed an eternity. We all wish that time would stand still ---- well, go to The Woodsman and it will. Or a least it will appear to.

Updated On: 2/12/14 at 04:48 AM
Reginald Tresilian
Broadway Legend
joined:6/12/08
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/12/14 at 11:47am
There was a 22-minute short a few years ago that told the Tin Woodman story beautifully. That is to say, the visuals were beautiful, with a sort of steampunk Tin Man, though some of the acting was a bit (ahem) stiff.

"Heartless:The Story of the Tin Man"
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
The Woodsman at 59e59
Posted: 2/12/14 at 02:43pm
I REALLY love Heartless... i wish they'd covered a few of the other characters.. The visuals and score are lovely. Honestly, it's part of why I was excited to see The Woodsman.