The Women are at It Again in Playhouse Square’s Respect

The Cleveland Scene
Sept. 6, 2006
Reviewed by Cristine Howey

That churning sound you hear downtown is not the Browns gearing up for their next 6-10 campaign. It’s the tidal wave of estrogen being unleashed up on East 14th, as Menopause, the Musical has given way to another songfest committed to making boomer babes dance in the aisles.

Yes, this time the You go, girl! shouts are being triggered by a musical march through the 20th century, tracing the travails and triumphs of women as they have clawed their way from second-class citizenship to empowerment. And … imaginative staging and a relentlessly effusive cast make it all work disarmingly well.

Dorothy Marcic … found that the songs we sang along with and hummed at various stages of recent history were a fairly accurate barometer of the status of women in society at that time. The result is an evening featuring more than 60 songs—some presented in full, some only in fragments—that evoke regret and celebration of what women have gone through.

Of course, any theatrical presentation that tries to encompass massive social movements over many decades in two hours is going to be accused of shallowness. But … there’s plenty of fun to be had stomping and splashing around.

The revue was conceived as a one-woman show, with the author supported by a trio of female singers, and it retains that form as Paula Kline-Messner plays Dr. Dorothy…

Familiar oldies like “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine” and “Someone to Watch Over Me” feel strangely repressive and illustrate Marcic’s theme that, for many years, a good woman was dependent and obsequious.

All in all, Respect is a worthy successor to the enormously popular Menopause.