Love, wrath, and power
Whether from reading one of L. Frank Baum's 14 books or knowing the 1939 film by heart, it is clear that the magical land of Oz is a troubled one. The story of one of Dorothy's stalwart companions is now the main character in Strangemen & Co.'s The Woodsman. Before he became the Tin Man, Nick (played by James Ortiz, who also adapted the story with members of the ensemble) was a woodcutter from a loving family. Like his neighbors, he never speaks for fear of offending the Wicked Witch of the East (a puppet on a broom and full-sized puppet with a particularly hideous face). Rather, Nick and the town sing, hum, and clap. When Nick falls in love with Nimmee, the Witch's slave, little communication is necessary. What happens next is no surprise, but how the actor/puppeteers fashion a Tin Man from a living one is riveting; Baum knew his Grimm fairy tales. For those who were once sad and scared by this iconic story, "The Woodsman" confirms childhood memories. The dark lighting, simple songs, creepy sound effects and puppet population are a welcome, even happy, way to look at something familiar. However, you'll discover there is one beloved object that does not make its way into the final scene; it was an MGM add-on and its absence here is fitting.