Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie
February 1 – 19, 2023
Devised by David M. Lutken with Nick Corley and
Darcie Deaville, Helen Jean Russell and Andy Teirstein
“Nobody living can ever stop me / As I go walking that freedom highway / Nobody living can make me turn back / This land was made for you and me”
A poignant, toe-tapping tribute to the original folk hero. Told with his own words and music, Woody Sez is the story of Woody Guthrie, whose protest ballads of the ’30s and ’40s illuminated the beauty and struggles of the common man and inspired a new generation of American songwriters including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Odetta, Ani DiFranco, and Bruce Springsteen. A cast of four actor-musicians performing multiple instruments bring Guthrie’s gripping and sometimes tragic biography to life. Featuring “Bound for Glory,” “Pastures of Plenty,” “The Ballad of Tom Joad,” “This Land is Your Land,” and many more of the folk icon’s enduring anthems.
Painting by Charles Banks Wilson
You're Invited to a Hootenanny!
The Dictionary defines hootenanny: /hoótn,anē/ noun informal US :: an informal gathering with folk music and sometimes dancing.
Every Sunday after the matinees of Woody Sez, the cast invites our audiences to join us in the theater lobby to play, sing — sometimes dance — and Hoot! We encourage everyone to bring along their instruments and voices and songs, and to join in. All ages, skill-levels and all the music spectrum is welcome. As Woody’s partner-in-musical-mischief, Pete Seeger, said: “a hootenanny isn’t another performance, it’s our ‘Community Sing’.”
The hootenannies are on February 5, 12, and 19 and will begin about half an hour after the Sunday matinee ends, and will last about an hour, in our lobby.
Photos taken by John Elder,
courtesy of David Lutken.
DAVID FINCH (he/him) Mr. Finch has played beside artists as diverse as Alan Cumming, Serj Tankian, Tony Bennett, Amanda Palmer, Kylie Minogue and Dee Snider from Lincoln Center to San Francisco’s Castro Theatre. As an actor/musician, Broadway: Cabaret; West End: Woody Sez. He’s performed in two dozen productions of Woody Sez Internationally and at Regional Theatres across the country. He played chromatic harmonica as the Mock Turtle in the opera Alice In Wonderland with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London and the L.A. Phil at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. PBS special: Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs. National/Int. Tours: Cabaret, Fame the Musical. Off-Broadway: Allegro, Fame on 42nd Street, Spring Storm, Woody Sez. Regional: Almost Heaven (Riverside), Indian Joe (Goodspeed), Prometheus Bound (A.R.T), Hank Williams’ Lost Highway (Stages Rep), Grapes of Wrath (Capital Rep), 1940s Radio Hour (Riverside), Fiddler on the Roof (Sacramento Music Circus), Buddy (MGR Playhouse). Associate Producer at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS from 2004–2006. Please visit fiddlerfinch.com
MAGGIE HOLLINBECK (she/her/hers) is happy to be back at Geva Theatre Center with this awesome group of humans! Maggie is an actress and musician based in New York City where she’s become a fixture in the Actor/Musician genre, playing roles in musicals such as Once (1st national tour, PCLO and Geva; Red Roses, Green Gold (Off-Broadway); Woody Sez (Ivoryton Playhouse); Ebeneezer Scrooge’s Big Playhouse Christmas Show (Bucks County Playhouse) and others. She’s also an original member of the band Ramblin’ Rose, which pays tribute to the great women of country music. Her favorite place to make music, though, is in collaboration with her music partner, Graham Sobelman. Together they’ve recorded five albums: Another Shade of Blue (a song-for-song cover of Joni Mitchell’s Blue) and Jane Kenyon Sessions Vol. One-Four. Graham and Maggie recently spent a week at Jane Kenyon’s farm in New Hampshire developing a musical based on Graham’s compositions, set to the writings of Jane and her husband, Donald Hall. When Maggie isn’t performing, she nurtures a thriving private practice as a psychotherapist.
MEGAN LOOMIS Native Rochesterian Megan Loomis is thrilled to be returning to Geva where she was last seen in, The Other Josh Cohen (Wilson Stage), The Road to Where (Fielding Stage), and her one-woman show, The Girl in the Band (Rochester International Fringe Festival-Fielding Stage). Fresh off the tour of Wicked, she also toured with War Horse, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Cabaret, and Sweeney Todd. Woody Sez productions include the Irish Repertory Theatre, Vienna’s English Theatre, Lyric Theatre OK, and at the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A proud graduate of Eastman School of Music, she also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Many thanks to David, Darcie, Andy, Helen and the Loomi.
DAVID M. LUTKEN (Deviser, Performer, Music Director) BROADWAY: Inherit the Wind; Ring of Fire; The Civil War; The Will Rogers Follies. OFF-BROADWAY: Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie (Outer Critics’ Circle, Off-Broadway Alliance & Drama League Best Musical nominations) Southern Comfort; Stars in Your Eyes; Winter Man; The Portable Pioneer and Prairie Show.
N.Y. CITY OPERA: Paul Bunyan.
LONDON: Woody Sez (Evening Standard Best Musical nomination); Dark of the Moon REGIONAL UK: Bonnie and Clyde; A Month In The Country.
REGIONAL US: Our Town; Man of La Mancha; Big River; Elmer Gantry; Finian’s Rainbow; The Will Rogers Follies; Fire On The Mountain; Lost Highway; Buddy; Pump Boys and Dinettes; The Love List; The Man Who Came to Dinner; On Golden Pond; Mark Twain’s River of Song; Almost Heaven, and most recently, a “play-with-music” from an original story by his wife, Director/Choreographer Sherry Lutken: The Porch on Windy Hill (nominated for four 2021 Connecticut Critics’ Circle Awards). He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Public Theater, The 92nd St Y, at Cooper Union, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, with the North Carolina Symphony and the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, on NPR, the BBC, Polskie Radio Troika, ORF Austria, Voice Of America, and The Louisiana Hayride. With Woody Sez, he and his company have toured Europe, the British Isles, China, the Middle East and The United States. David won the Helen Hayes and the Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best Actor for his portrayal of Woody Guthrie.
LUKE CANTARELLA (Scenic Design) Luke Cantarella is pleased to be making his debut at Geva with Woody Sez. He has designed productions of Woody at theaters across the country including Seattle Rep, ART, Northlight, Center Rep and many others. His work has been seen at numerous theaters including the Repertory Theater of St. Louis, The MUNY, Theater Works, Yale Repertory Theater, Pittsburgh Public, the Atlantic Theater Company, the Asolo and many others. Opera credits include productions at Santa Fe Opera, Peabody Opera Theater, Center for Contemporary Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera. Internationally, he has designed in London’s West End, Amsterdam, Sibiu, Vienna and Cairo. Luke is also a professor of design at Pace University. lukecantarella.com
Jeffrey Meek (Costume Design) Jeffrey is in his twelfth season as costume designer and this past fall was privileged to costume his fiftieth production with Oklahoma’s Lyric Theatre. For ten years, Jeffrey served as principal costumer for The Ohio Light Opera. He has been privileged to work with such companies as The Point Theatre, Jewel Box Theatre, Carpenter Square, The Eastman School of Music and Colossal Studios. Jeffrey also designed Romeo and Juliet for Oklahoma City’s Reduxion Theatre Company. He has designed A Christmas Carol: The Musical, Annie and Disney’s High School Musical for Casa Manana Theatre. For the past five years he has designed A Very Merry Pops for the OKC Philharmonic. He has also branched out into film, designing wardrobe most recently for Pearl Carter Scott with Media 13.
EMILY STORK (Lighting Design) Lighting designs for theatre, dance, opera, puppetry and performance art have been seen worldwide, including festivals in Italy, France, Scotland, and Israel and in the U.S. at places as diverse as PS 122, Dance Theatre Workshop, the Cherry Lane Theatre, the Public Theater, La Mama, St. Ann’s Warehouse, the Walker Arts Center, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the National Museum of the American Indian, On the Boards, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center in Troy, New York, Lincoln Center and on the side of a building in Rochester, NY. In 2003, she was the resident lighting designer for the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, where she had the pleasure of working with Maestro Gian Carlo Menotti on Wagner’s Lohengrin. Some of her favorite collaborations have been with Split Britches on Peggy Shaw’s To My Chagrin, Pig Iron Theater Company’s James Joyce is Dead and So is Paris, Norah Jones’ Album Release Party for Little Broken Hearts at the Box in NYC and on the world premiere of Greg Kotis’ All Your Questions Answered directed by Sean Daniels at Geva Theatre Center. She was the Lighting Director at The Juilliard School for 12 years, where she designed countless shows and special events including the Leading Ladies Gala starring Audra McDonald and Barbara Cook and The Tempest benefit reading with Sir Derek Jacobi. She is a proud member of United Scenic Artists 829 (IASTE Local USA 829). Emily is the festival lighting designer for the Rochester Fringe Festival, where her designs included the aerialist dance group, Bandaloop, the Cirque du Fringe in the Magic Crystal Spiegeltent and the outdoor informal installation at the Spiegel Garden. Emily received her B.A. from State University of New York atNew Paltz and an M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Examples of her work can be found at: www.emilystorkdesign.com
Rebecca C. Monroe (Production Stage Manager) Multiple credits on and off-Broadway, in regional theatre and opera, touring, business events, television, and film. Thanks to Perry Cline.
ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON (Artistic Director) has built a distinguished career as a producer, director, dramaturg, and adaptor. She has worked extensively throughout the U.S. and around the globe, including on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in London’s West End before becoming the Artistic Director of Geva Theatre in 2022. For Geva Theatre, she directed and adapted Jane Eyre to launch the 50th Anniversary season. Other recent projects include dramaturging the Young Vic/West End/Broadway production of Matthew López’ The Inheritance (Tony, Olivier, Critics Circle, Evening Standard, GLAAD, and Drama Desk Awards for Best Play, Outer Critics Circle Honoree); dramaturging the Hartford Stage/Broadway productions of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Tony Award for Best Musical) and Anastasia; artistic producing, co-directing and dramaturging the online version of Sarah Gancher’s Russian Troll Farm (Theater Works Hartford/ Theatre Squared/ The Civilians, New York Times’ “Best Theater of 2020”); directing and adapting Jane Eyre (Hartford Stage); dramaturging Bess Wohl’s Make Believe (Outer Critics Circle Honoree, New York Times’ “Best Theater of 2019”); and directing Henry V (Hartford Stage). Williamson’s extensive organizational leadership experience includes serving as Associate Artistic Director and Literary Manager at Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City from 2008 – 2012 and as Associate Artistic Director and Director of New Play Development at Hartford Stage from 2012 – 2020. As a freelance artist, she has also worked for About Face Theatre, the Act French Festival, ACT, Berkeley Rep, Cal Shakes, Court Theatre, Figureatret i Nordland in Norway, HERE, the La Jolla Playhouse, Steppenwolf Theatre, the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Primary Shages, Theatre de La Jeune Lune, Universal Studios, Westport Country Playhouse, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and London’s Young Vic. Education: M.St. Oxford University, B.A., Bennington College, trained at the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris and with Complicité. She is the 2007 recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literary Translation. Member: SDC, LMDA
CHRISTOPHER MANNELLI (Executive Director) Joined Geva in 2016 from Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, a Tony Award-winning institution dedicated to new plays and playwrights, where he served as Managing Director. During his five-year tenure he led the reorganization of the institution and was responsible for the strategic planning, fundraising, and audience development initiatives that created the theatre’s new business model. Chris oversaw numerous award-winning productions, increased contributed income, and launched innovative membership and audience engagement initiatives. Prior to his work with Victory Gardens, he served as Deputy Director at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, one of the largest nonprofit theatres in Chicago. He oversaw operations and helped to produce the theatre’s “World Stage” international programming, including Chicago Shakespeare’s first-ever tour to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. Before moving to Chicago, Chris was the Managing Director for HotCity Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri. In this capacity, he was instrumental in the company’s financial and programmatic growth, which included education programs, new play initiatives, and several collaborations with prominent arts organizations. He has served on the board of directors of the League of Chicago Theatres, as a steering committee member for Enrich Chicago (a group of arts organizations in Chicago working collectively to address racial equity), and as a board member for the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce and the community board of Emerald City Theatre. In 2017 he was appointed to the New York State Council on the Arts’ Theatre Advisory Panel, where he served for two years. He has also served on the board of directors for the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), and the Washington Square Park Community Association. He currently serves on the corporate board for the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center and the board of the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation (RDDC) as a member of the executive and nominating committees. Chris grew up on Long Island and began his career as an actor and a musician, touring nationally and internationally. He holds a B.A. in opera performance from the SUNY Geneseo School of Performing Arts, an M.F.A. in Arts Leadership from DePaul University, and an Executive Scholars Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.