I love live theatre but one thing I love more than theatre is music. So put the two together and I’m one happy camper. Especially when it’s about one of my favourite singer/ songwriters.
Woody Guthrie wrote about many things…life experiences, people, injustice…things he believed in. He also wrote some fun little ditties for kids.
He wrote timeless masterpieces like “This Land is Your Land” and “Bound For Glory”.
He’s inspired many musicians over the years including Bob Dylan and Billy Bragg.
Vancouverite Thomas Jones’ Fringe play “Woody Sed” is loaded with great tidbits of information about the master singer/ songwriter’s life.
Thomas took to the stage with acoustic guitar with Woody’s famous “‘This Guitar Kills Fascists” sticker proudly displayed above the sound hole.
The audience was encouraged to sing along after Mr. Thomas told them the lines to sing. He didn’t have to twist our arms (or vocal chords) too much as the full house happily sang along.
He even threw in a tune each by Jimmie Rodgers and Leadbelly (two more of my favourites).
The well written play covered Woody’s entire life in 75 minutes.
Thomas even played the parts of Woody’s three wives amongst other people in Woody’s sometimes troubled life.
The brilliant one man play was written in 2008 and has since been performed at many festivals (music and theatre) since then. It was even performed at the annual WoodyFest in Woody’s hometown in Oklahoma.
Indeed, the place seemed to be full of music lovers like myself. To my left was Norm who told me that his older brother dragged him to an Arlo Guthrie concert in Ottawa at 13 years old when Arlo released the epic “Alice’s Restaurant”.
Norm was transformed into a folkie from that day on. Apparently the album was one of the last pieces of music that Woody listened to before he passed away.
At the end of the play, which received a standing ovation, I met Gary Watkins. Gary, his friend and I waited at the end of the show for Thomas to come onto the stage after the audience left. I asked Gary what he thought. He said, “It was great how he encapsulated Woody’s life in song and story so well.”
Thomas came out and signed the guitar that Gary brought along. Gary also does a Woody Guthrie tribute of his own called Woody’s Choice. Thomas agreed to meet me outside for a few photos and chat after he cleaned the stage to make room for the next Fringe play.
I told him I that it’s great that he is keeping Woody’s music alive. He’s obviously a true fan (and a great musician and actor as well).
All photos by Doug Kretchmer