LOS ANGELES -- Concluding the summer's events at the hillside ampitheatre, the Theatricum Botanicum will present the revival of a traditional favorite, The Woody Guthrie Show, a tribute to the late songwriter and singer. Showtime is Sunday, Sept. 27, 6 PM.
Developed and often performed by Theatricum founder Will Geer along with family and friends, the show presents a musical portrait of the self-described "rambling man from Oklahoma." The tribute is built on songs such as "Pastures of Plenty," "Worried Man" and "This Land is Your Land" and incorporates selections from published and unpublished writings by Guthrie, who was considered a member of the Geer family.
"My memories of Woody are that he was honest and cantankerous, guileless and flat-footed, and above all passionate about everyone getting a fair share," said Theatricum artistic director Ellen Geer.
The relationship between Guthrie and the Geer family began in the late 1930s in California, when the musician met an equally impassioned young actor named Will Geer. Along with Geer's wife Herta Ware, the pair performed together at union labor rallies and immigrant camps. When Geer got a job on Broadway in a production of Tobacco Road, Guthrie joined him in New York, where he met Pete Seeger and others who would afterward be at the center of his musical and political life.
In 1951 Geer was one of the actors victimized by the McCarthy era blacklisting. After losing his home, he moved his family to the property in Topanga which is now the Theatricum Botanicum. He opened a theatre of blacklisted actors and folk singers. Guthrie spent some of his last years on the property, in what is still referred to as "Woody's shack." Tickets are $17-$12 upper tier; $12 or $10 seniors, students and Equity members. Children $5, kids five and under, free. 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. Call (310) 455- 3723.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent