Off Broadway Review: Oz Backstory ‘The Woodsman’ Although most of the show is in wordless puppet-speak, a narrator (Ortiz, who owns this show) addresses the audience long enough to put the story in perspective. The wicked witch who rules over the eastern provinces of Oz, he informs us, has made a sad and sorry place of her kingdom. The woods are inhabited by monsters, the witch’s spies are everywhere, and people are afraid to speak their thoughts out loud. Words have literally become dangerous in the kingdom, so everyone stops talking and now communicate in non-verbal grunts, groans, squeaks, squeals and whistles. They laugh, they cry, they clap their hands, and make all kinds of weird noises — but they truly do not speak. The only other sound is the expressive but rather hectic violin playing of musician Naomi Florin. The music is not unpleasant, just relentless.
“The Woodsman,” Inspired by L. Frank Baum’s Tin Man, Returns to New York We get to know Nick’s parents, a humble woodsman and his wife. Early scenes depict “Pa,” with exaggerated animation, teaching his coltish son to chop wood. Meanwhile, even further to the east, a barefoot slave is imprisoned by the wicked witch. The beautiful Nimmee dreams of and eventually manages escape from her captor. The fated young adults meet, but the witch thwarts their union by somehow possessing Nick’s trusted ax. In a sequence of disturbing scenes, the hatchet turns against its owner. Each time, a gaggle of “Tinkers” fastens artificial limbs onto the wounded boy, until eventually he’s made entirely of metal. Nimmee is still capable of loving Nick, but can Nick do the same, now that he’s lost his heart?
Backstage Life With James Ortiz of ‘The Woodsman’ “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” has continued to provide endless fascination since L. Frank Baum first published it in 1900. Off-Broadway’s “The Woodsman” tells the story of how the Tin Man lost his heart long before he ever met Dorothy. Creator, designer, and puppeteer James Ortiz takes us behind the scenes of this enchanting show.
BONUS: Michael Bay’s “Wizard of Oz”