David M. Lutken: Man Of American Icons In Goodspeed's 'Will Rogers Follies'


Before David M. Lutken took on the role of Woody Guthrie in the touring production of Woody Sez (which played Hartford’s TheaterWorks and Westport Playhouse), he first played another American icon — Will Rogers — in the ’90s on Broadway and on tour.

He’ll be working the lasso and cracking wise as the legendary comedian-folk philosopher again when The Will Rogers Follies plays East Haddam’s Goodspeed Opera House April 13 to June 21.

Lutken is cornering the market on legendary American figures, having played Abraham Lincoln, too. While he hasn’t taken on the role of Mark Twain, he was in Goodspeed’s production of Big River a while back, based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Is this a good time to bring back Will Rogers, who gently poked fun at politicians with his common-sense brand of humor?

“I don’t think there’s ever a bad time,” Lutken says, adding that the beginning of the show will have him as Rogers commenting on today’s news headlines.

Lutken was discreet, however, when talking about another American figure.

“I met our current resident [of the White House] several times because his second wife, Marla Maples, [was in the replacement cast of Follies] and, because I was the understudy, I was the one who rehearsed with her. We became good friends and she was very sweet and Mr. Trump was along for the ride. It gives me an interesting perspective now.”

Has he changed much? “Well, gee, we’d have to have another phone call about all that I remembered — and all that I’ve forgotten.”