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Westport Country Playhouse to Stage WOODY SEZ: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF WOODY GUTHRIE

Westport Country Playhouse to Stage WOODY SEZ: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF WOODY GUTHRIEWestport Country Playhouse will stage a limited engagement of the recent off-Broadway musical, "Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie," from January 9 through January 20. Featured in the title role is David M. Lutken, the show's deviser, who won Helen Hayes and Joseph Jefferson awards for his performance.

"The idea for the show came out of a desire for people in America and around the world to know more about the life of a fellow from my part of the world whom I've greatly admired for a long time," said Lutken, who is a native of Dallas, Texas. "Not only his songs, but his life, lifestyle, and the persona he created for himself have all been examined and referenced and imitated for two or three generations now, but 'Woody Sez' is an attempt to channel something more through theater. It's the spirit of the man through his 'Life & Music' that I want the audience to feel and see and hear--- and 'get'."

Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director, first met Lutken about 20 years ago when he was seeking a ballad singer for his production of the folk operetta, "Paul Bunyan," by Benjamin Britten and W.H. Auden. "When David walked in to audition for us, we were immediately won over by his buoyant warmth, honesty, joyousness-and that voice! It was as if a great big smile entered the room," said Lamos. "I'm thrilled to welcome him and 'Woody Sez' to the Playhouse. You have a rare treat in store!"

In this celebration of Americana music, four actors play more than two dozen acoustic instruments, including guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, jaw harp, harmonica, and dulcimer. The musical portrait uses Guthrie's own words and over two dozen of his indelible songs, including "This Land Is Your Land," "Union Maid," "Deportees," and "This Train Is Bound for Glory."

Lutken, who portrays Woody Guthrie, appeared in Broadway's "Inherit the Wind," "Ring of Fire," "The Civil War," and "The Will Rogers Follies." Other cast members include David Finch (Broadway's "Cabaret," regional theater's "Grapes of Wrath"), Katie Barton (regional theater's "Stand by Your Man," "Ring of Fire," "Hank Williams: Lost Highway"), and Leenya Rideout (Broadway's "War Horse," "Cyrano de Bergerac," "Company," "Cabaret"). Director and co-deviser is Nick Corley (off-Broadway/NY productions of "Tall Grass," "Flight" - Callaway Award nomination, "About Face" - NYMF best direction nomination).

First produced at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2007, "Woody Sez" has since played London's West End (2011 Evening Standard Best Musical nominee), and over 60 cities in the U.K., the U.S., across Europe, the Middle East, and China.

Inspired by the Playhouse's mission statement "theater worth talking about," Lutken stated that "Woody Sez" is "theater worth singing about!"

Performance schedule is Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m.

"Woody Sez" tickets are $35, $45, and $50.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.westportplayhouse.org or call the box office at (203) 227-4177, toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Stay connected to the Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), and on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse).

About Westport Country Playhouse

The mission of Westport Country Playhouse is to enrich, enlighten, and engage the community through the power of professionally produced theater worth talking about and the welcoming experience of the Playhouse campus. The Playhouse provides this experience in multiple ways by offering: Live theater experiences of the highest quality, under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos; educational and community engagement events to further explore the work on stage; programs for students and teachers with extensive curriculum support material; Script in Hand play readings to deepen relationships with audiences and artists; the renowned Woodward Internship Program during the summer months for aspiring theater professionals; Family Festivities presentations to delight young and old alike and to promote reading through live theater; youth performance training and performance opportunities through Broadway Method Academy, WCP's resident conservatory; and the beautiful and historic Playhouse campus open for enjoyment and community events year-round.

Photo by Wendy Mutz


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