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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Patriotic play unexpectedly upbeat

    Patriotic play unexpectedly upbeat

    We all remember those classic American folk songs that we learned in elementary school music class, songs like “”This Land is Your Land,”” and “”Bound for Glory,”” which tend to get lost among the more exciting beats of popular music today.

    But these songs do have a time and place in history: many of them come from the many struggles of the working class during the Great Depression of the 1930s. And during that time, singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie was the man that brought those stories to life.

    This winter, the Arizona Theatre Company reminds us of this part of American history. From now until Dec. 22, the company is bringing the musical “”Woody Guthrie’s American Song”” to Tucson. The show tells the inspirational story of Guthrie’s life as he journeyed across America looking for work.

    The show is an interesting reminder that these classic songs are filled with meaning, especially if we take their context into consideration. “”Woody Guthrie’s American Song”” uses a similar technique as the 2007 film “”Across the Universe,”” by tying music together with an overarching story and reminding us why the songs were written. In the musical, the characters remind us that there is something simply “”clear and honest”” about the everyday songs, work songs, love songs and war songs of the 1930s.

    And the musical doesn’t simply rehash the tunes that we’ve heard a hundred times before. The show has adapted the songs in new ways, with various parts that create incredible sounds. The resplendent vocal harmonies of Kenita R. Miller and Sally Mayes, in particular, bring a whole new interpretation of Guthrie’s music. Likewise, throughout the entire performance, a live band performs onstage. A quartet of talented musicians utilizes instruments such as guitar, fiddle, banjo, harmonica, accordion and bass, just to name a few.   

    “”Woody Guthrie’s American Song”” is an upbeat performance that, on more than one occasion, invites the audience to sing along, clap with enthusiasm and dance in the aisles. The show both reminds us of our nation’s history and entertains us with the stories and songs of the generations that came before us.

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