This Land: The Story of Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie was an Oklahoma folk musician, famous for his protest music and probably most famous for the song This Land Is Your Land. The production told the story of his life, in musical format of course. Each segment of his life was separated by the swapping of the role from one cast member to the next, marked by blowing feathers from the their hands and the words ‘take it, but take it easy’.

The interchanging of roles lent itself to a fast, furious, and fluid production. There was scarcely a moment’s stillness as the cast bounded around the stage playing instruments, singing, dancing, and never once exiting. This semi-epic style was a refreshing change from your average musical. Characters never simply burst into song; there was music pretty much throughout and the songs were generally in a real context.

All performances, musically and acting-wise, were very strong and a joy to watch. My own favourite performance came from the only female actress in the company. Playing what seemed like ten roles or so, her characterisation of each part was unique from all the others; she had charisma to die for and you couldn’t keep your eyes off her.

The story told was one of Guthrie’s tragic loss of family, his constant wonderings across America, his musical career and his battle with Huntingdon’s disease. You would think this would make a good enough story in itself but at the very end of the play and Guthrie’s life, we meet a new young folk musician with wild hair, a rambling voice, and his own protests to make. Yes, it was Bob Dylan, Guthrie’s protégé. After spending the last hour getting to know, love, and respect Woody Guthrie, I was disappointed when the show ended with Dylan singing us out. Oh, I thought to myself, is that what Woody Guthrie’s famous for?

On the whole, the show was very well done. If you’re interested in the history of music, or just want a slightly more relaxed musical, then This Land is made for you (and me)!

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The Blurb

A blow-by-blow account of one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, telling the story through his own words and music to create the play Woody never got to write.

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