Marcic’s Respect Not Just for the Girls

Review by Olena Ripnick
Original Review
Oct. 25, 2006 

Respect: A Musical Journey
Conceived and Written by Dorothy Marcic

A jukebox musical revue at its finest, Respect strives to tell the tale of the American woman’s journey from 1900 to the present through the Top 40 hits of the times. Peppered with Ella Fitzgerald classics like “Hard Hearted Hannah” and ballads like “Bewitched,” as well as female anthems like Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” and MarTina McBride’s “This One’s For the Girls,” Respect is a respectable slice of bubble gum fare. Once you accept this show for what it is, you’ll be in for one heck of a fun ride, complete with some of your favorite songs from the twentieth century.

More interesting, though, is the story behind the musical, which is based on one of Marcic’s twelve books, titled Respect: Women and Popular Music and has been performed worldwide in places from Australia to Israel. The narrator, it seems, is named Dorothy for a reason, and the tale she tells is not merely a generalized story of womanhood from the turn of the century; it is, in fact, the story of Marcic’s own experience and the experience of the women in her family. An interesting touch that, along with the incorporation of family photos alongside those of more well-known individuals into the stop and go onstage slideshow, lends a bit of credence to what could have been an over-generalized production.

The music, however, is what makes this production, and in this Respect, the show does not disappoint. The song choices are fantastic, and I guarantee there’s a little something for everyone. And as far as talent goes, well, the four female cast members bring the house down. From the powerhouse opening medley, to an ultra-femme “These Boots are Made for Walking,” to the particularly energetic “Respect,” these women show that they not only have the pipes for pop music, but they sure as hell know how to use them. It’s musical female empowerment at its Top 40 best.

Any time Kareema M. Castro sings, for example, all doubts temporarily cease to exist. This AMDA grad can belt with the best of them, and conveys every emotion through her voice and performance. Castro tells a story every time she sings, and her rendition of “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” gave me chills – the good kind, of course. Throw in an equally beautiful “‘Taint Nobody’s Business If I Do” and a rendition of “Respect” that would make Aretha Franklin proud, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Tiana Checchia’s “I Wanna Be Loved By You” is cute, perky, and wonderfully executed, and Collier’s “Whatever Lola Wants,” is impressively seductive, both vocally and in it’s physical performance. Even Kathy St. George’s “In My Daughter’s Eyes” – a sappy ballad if I ever heard one – does the trick in pulling the heartstrings, although the photo montage that goes along with it does push things a bit over the top.

So when it comes down to it, Respect is nothing but pure, unadulterated fun. It certainly has its share of sugar-coated sappiness and doesn’t quite do justice to the feminist struggle of the past century, but chances are, you’ll still love almost every minute of it. This one is for the girls, and the boys, and the adults, and the kids, and anyone else who’s looking to have a good theatrical time.

Stuart Street Playhouse – Boston, MA