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Stackner Brings the Music of Woody Guthrie to Milwaukee Audiences

“Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie.” A Revue. Devised by David M. Lutken with Nick Corley and Darcie Deaville, Helen Jean Russell and Andy Teirstein. Directed by Nick Corley. Stackner Cabaret.


Even people who don’t know much about Woody Guthrie know at least some of his songs. They know “This Land Is Your Land,” and they know “This Train Is Bound for Glory,” if nothing. But Guthrie wrote something like 3,000 songs in his lifetime (and a couple of novels). This revue doesn’t offer anywhere near 3,000 songs, of course, but it offers something more than 30 of Guthrie’s best songs, not just “This Train Is Bound for Glory” and “This Land Is Your Land,” but also “Talkin’ New York City, 1940,” The Ballad of Tom Joad,” “Vigilante Man,” “Union Maid,” and “Sinking of the Reuben James.”

The role of Guthrie is taken by David M. Lutken, a marvelously talented singing, dancing, and guitar-picking Texan of incredible energy, who won the 2013 Helen Hayes Award and Joseph Jefferson awards for his portrayal of Guthrie.

In addition to Lutken, there are three other highly talented and energetic performers: Leenya Rideout, who plays the mandolin, guitar and dulcimer and has a voice like the young Joan Baez, David Finch, who sings and who with great good humor plays banjo, guitar and flute, and Helen Jean Russell, who sings and plays bass and other instruments.

This show was a delight, and the performance we attended earned for the performers a well-deserved standing ovation. If you care at all about history and American folk music, you owe it to yourself to see this show. You won’t be disappointed. In fact, you may find yourself improved somewhat by the words of Woody Guthrie. “Woody Sez” runs until March 9.