POSTED ON APRIL 24, 2013:
Guthrie Museum Debuts
Plus, a bad, bad girl
t's been a long time coming. Officially announced in 2011, the Woody Guthrie Center throws open its doors this weekend in an opening ceremony open to all.
The seminal folk musician has influenced generations of songwriters, but the Woody Guthrie Center is more than just a museum for musicians. Rather, there are interactive exhibits centering on Guthrie's life, his role in Oklahoma history, the Dust Bowl, and then there is the newly-arrived Woody Guthrie Archives.
For a time, these archives -- containing 10,000 items of primary and secondary source material -- resided in New York. But after careful deliberation, Guthrie's daughter Nora decided to accept a bid from the George Kaiser Family Foundation to purchase the archives and relocate them to Tulsa.
"Nora Guthrie has been talking with the Kaiser Family Foundation for quite some time," said Deana McCloud, executive director of the Woody Guthrie Center. "The archives are actually an extension of the museum. It's more for the academics and the researchers, whereas the museum is very hands-on for the general public and for students."
That hands-on part includes several video and interactive exhibits, including a map of Guthrie's life.
"I've been spending some time down there playing," McCloud said of the exhibits. "It's amazing. There's a big interactive map. I could probably spend three hours in front of it and maybe get through it all. You can look at the world in general, at World War II, and the Dust Bowl. Then there's a section about his life, and you can look at places he lived and what he did at those places."
There are boxes of a great many of Guthrie's journals, there are hand-written lyrics -- including a piece of paper with the words to "This Land is Your Land" scrawled on it, the item which the museum seems most proud of -- and there's an exhibit on the Dust Bowl, one of the items which McCloud said makes the museum about much more than just one man.
"Kids can come in and watch videos," she said. "It has a five-minute excerpt from the Ken Burns documentary, and it has causes of the Dust Bowl and things like that. The museum is using that as a catalyst. It extends beyond just being Woody-specific. It's about Oklahoma and its history."
Collaborating with the Woody Guthrie Center is the Los Angeles-based Grammy Museum, which just last year organized a year-long celebration of the singer's 100th birthday, including tribute concerts, conferences, and a touring Guthrie-centric exhibition.
Grammy Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli has a personal interest in Guthrie, so he is happy to partner with the Guthrie Center.
"We've been deeply involved with Woody Guthrie as a major American figure for a few years," he said. "I've written a couple of books on Woody. The importance of this guy's music is such that he ranks very, very high on the list of American musical greats of the 20th century."
He also looks forward to working with the Guthrie Center in an ongoing fashion.
"When the archives were going to move to Tulsa, we offered our service to the Kaiser Foundation," Santelli said. "We got involved to help conceptualize it and bring our experience here in LA to the WG center in Tulsa. We'll collaborate on projects and partner on this and that and allow for a great two-way relationship."
On Saturday, April 27 at 1pm, the place officially opens.
"It's a big extravaganza. We're really excited about that," McCloud said. "We'll cut the ribbon and open the doors. People can go through however they want, and there will be concerts going on at the Guthrie Green. If there's a big line into the museum, people can go check out the music and just spend the day with us."
She promised time-stamped tickets so that there wouldn't be a huge rush to get in, followed by an inability to move around inside because of too many bodies being in the room.
The music McCloud mentioned will be going on at the Guthrie Green from 1-6pm and will feature live performances from Sarah Lee Guthrie, Johnny Irion, Desi and Cody, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, and others.
The Woody Guthrie Center is located at 102 E. Brady, and its hours of operation will be 10am-6pm Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for kids ages 5-17.
E.L. James' sexy trilogy comes to the stage this week in Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody, a (you guessed it) parody of the Fifty Shades of Grey books. If you're a guy and were lucky enough to be part of a couple while your girl read these books, you are grateful for them. If you missed out on that, you might not know about them. But most women have at least heard of the novels.
According to actor Drew Moerlein, that doesn't mean this is a chick show.
"We take popular, pop culture songs and change the lyrics and give them a sexy flair and connect them to the book," he said. "It's more tapped into a broader idea of our society right now and our culture. Everyone in the audience can connect to every single song."
So even being completely unfamiliar with James' books won't put audience members at a disadvantage.
"Even if you haven't read the books, the songs come on, and you'll laugh your ass off," Moerlein said. "And we hit a bunch of other films and books and celebrities in our culture, and people see that, and they realize that we're taking a look at all of it."
Just like the novel series, Spank! traces the tale of an innocent college graduate who wonders into the web of a rich guy who likes it rough.
"She's the virginal, naïve sort of princess who's learning the ways of this sexy billionaire," Moerlein said. "I play that gentleman. He owns a large company, and he's a billionaire with a dark secret of being a dominatrix."
For all the parody elements in the show, Moerlein is quick to distance the production from outright mockery.
"We don't like to say 'poking fun,'" he said. "It's more of a celebration of the book as a parody. We're not making fun of it. We're appreciating what it is and the hype that's been created around it in our society."
And in a way, Spank! takes the tiniest bit of a serious look at sexual mores in our society, as well as holding a mirror up to fans of the books.
"How quickly this open sexuality in our society has come up," Moerlein said. "We take all these habits of Hugh Hanson--Christian Grey from the book and explore them in hilarious, fun ways. So the audience comes along for the journey, and they come in with an expectation of what they're going to see. And we're able to say, 'This part of the book is really ridiculous. You know that, right?'"
Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody plays at the Tulsa Convention Center, 100 Civic Center, April 25-27 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $36.50 and are available through tickets.com, 877-885-7222, or at the Arby's box office at the BOK Center.
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