Sunday, January 1, 2017

Woody and the Divas at Centerstage

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Dec. 29, 2016
Randy Noojin as Woody Guthrie, photo courtesy Randy Noojin
Centerstage Theatre in Federal Way has reached out to Seattle and even as far away as New York in order to start the new year with great musical entertainment, starting with Hard Travelin’ with Woody, a glimpse into the life and music of Woody Guthrie written and performed by New York actor Randy Noojin.
Iconic folk singer Woody Guthrie was an anti-war, pro-labor activist who traveled the rails singing his songs in hobo jungles and labor halls. Known for songs such as “This Land is Your Land,” Guthrie inspired such contemporary singer/songwriters as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, and he was the father of Arlo Guthrie of “Alice’s Restaurant” and “City of New Orleans” fame.
Noojin wrote Hard Travelin’ with Woody in 2011, and first performed it at FringeNYC that year.
Noojin said: “The inspiration came when I saw a video of Woody's daughter, Nora Guthrie, singing Woody's song (with music by his son, Arlo Guthrie), "My Peace," at Banjo Jim's in NYC at a tribute concert of Woody's music. I was mysteriously moved. … I had been looking for a subject for a solo show to write for myself and Woody's views on income inequality, brutal police, the mistreatment of migrant workers, unfair wages and working conditions for laborers were so close to my own views, I wouldn't have to act, but just express my own concerns using Woody's words and songs. There is plenty of Woody-in-his-own-words available to choose from, thanks to his autobiographical novel, Bound for Glory, a collection of his articles for People's World magazine called ‘Woody sez,’ plus Library of Congress recordings of his interviews with Alan Lomax, and other collections of his writing.” 
In the play, Noojin as Woody plays for a union meeting of striking mineworkers who are on the verge of yielding to vigilante violence. 
​“I chose what I thought were his indispensable songs and found a trajectory among them,” Noonin said. “I added projections of Woody's artworks in 2012 with the help of designer Caite Hevner, and now, after four years of tinkering, adding and subtracting songs and passages of text, the show is settling into a final draft.”
There are only eight performances of Hard Travelin’ With Woody. Advance reservations are highly recommended. 
Up next is Dishing With The Divas, a high-energy “interactive musical” about the final live studio broadcast of the hit talk show “Girl Talk” on WPMS radio. The two radio hosts and their most popular regular guest, sex therapist Dr. Lauda, are going out in style. The ladies love to dish about life, love, sex, marriage, relationships, friendships, motherhood, careers, food, alcohol, and men.
The divas perform hit songs by artists such as The Pointer Sisters, Jennifer Lopez, Carrie Underwood, Aretha Franklin, and more.
Dishing With the Divas is a co-production with Entertainment Events Inc., who co-produced Cuff Me, Girls Night, HELP! and the three Late Nite Catechism shows with Centerstage. It will be directed by Entertainment Events director Sonya Carter and will feature three young Seattle musical theatre artists: Jorie Jones, a graduate of Central Washington University who appeared at Seattle Musical Theatre in She Loves Me. Tiffany Chancey, who has appeared at StageRight and Burien Actors Theatre, Cassandra Neumann, who has appeared in Legally Blonde and Ragtime at Tacoma Musical Playhouse.
“One of the interesting things about these co-productions is that the Seattle cast becomes the West Coast touring cast for EE Inc. Past Centerstage casts have gone on to do shows as far afield as the Tri-Cities, Portland, SanFrancisco and Los Angeles” said Centerstage managing director Alan Bryce.
Hard Travlin’ with Woody, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12-22; Dishing with the Divas, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9-26, Centerstage at Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way, 253-565-6867,

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