Respect: A Musical Journey of Women

 

Boca Raton Theater Guild, Floridarespect-graphic-copy

Written by Dorothy Marcic

Directed by Peter J.Loewy

 FROM FLORIDA:

The songs we sing, the insights they reveal

 Sitting in Sunny Florida while my fellow critics freeze up North, I now have at least two reasons for suggesting that everyone pack bags and head south. First, of course is the weather, but a close second would be opportunity to attend a fantastic performance of  Respect: A Musical Journey of Women, now playing in Boca Raton.  I saw it this afternoon, could easily see it again (and most likely will when relatives arrive for the winter holidays).  What a stunning performance — in idea and execution.

 As literature is a mirror of reality, so is popular music, and the brilliant idea behind both the musical and the 2002 book by Dorothy Marcic  that inspired it, is that the top hits of the years between 1900 and 2000 underscore a changing gender reality, moving from women’s initial compliance and dependency through their eventual consciousness raising and rebellion. The words and music of each decade are archetypal.

 But idea, no matter how brilliant, is nothing without execution, and the four golden-voiced, charismatic and sure-footed singer/dancer/actors — Carla Bordonada, Nicole Kinzel, Sharyn Peoples, and Ziarra Washington — never miss a note, a beat, a step, or timing in their infinitely varied solos, medleys, trios, and quartets.   Props are deceptively simple and effective: a quilt, shiny white boots,  red boas, all underscoring appropriate lyrics. In addition, two screens emphasize the message with filmed portraits ranging from Betty Boop to Rosa Parks.

 Boy, do they put across the songs, moving from the accepting lyrics of “My Man” the vigorous, assertive words of “I Will Survive!”  The show is so professional and entertaining that you don’t have to be female to enjoy it! The production transcends gender stereotyping.  While it is impossible to list all the songs, here’s an example of the ground covered: “Bill Bailey,” “It Must Be Him,” “I Wanna Be Loved By You,” “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets,” “Bobby’s Girl,” “You Don’t Own Me,” “These Boots are Made for Walking,” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”  Kudos to musical director Phil Hinton and choreographer Kevin Black.  

 Although filled with songs, this musical is not a review.   Commentary enhances the choices when the women — who differ distinctively in personality, age and body type — interweave the own personal memories, examining what influenced them, and what they, in turn, influenced.  

 Throughout, Phil Hinton, on keyboard, Ranses Colon on bass and Tom Hinton on percussion, provide solid, catchy accompaniment.

 During the next three months, the Musical Journey will make stops at the Visalia Players in Visalia, CA, the Herberger Theater in Phoenix, AZ and the Stephens College School of Performing Arts in Columbia, MO, according to their web site at http://www.respectthemusical.com/venues.php. So, if you can’t head for Florida right now, and happen to visit one of these venues, don’t miss the experience! Or, better yet, speaking as a Chicagoan let’s try to get it to our own fair city — sometime when it warms up.

 Highly Recommended

Beverly Friend, PhD

Member, American Theater Critics Assn.

 Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center’s Studio Theatre, 2nd Floor, 201 Plaza Real. Boca Raton, FL, 866-811-4111, tickets $38, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday, through Jan 5. Run time two hours with a 15-minute intermission.