Wendell’s Weekend Pick: ‘Respect’

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
June 14, 2007
Review by Wendell Brock

If you could pick one song as the soundtrack of your life, what would it be? Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” perhaps. The Gershwins’ “Someone to Watch Over Me,” maybe. How about Janis Joplin’s trademark “Piece of My Heart”?

Such is the premise of Dorothy Marcic’s “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women,” the jukebox revue on the 14th Street Playhouse main stage that charts the history of the American female as a chronicle of hard work, disappointment, strength, integrity and love.

The author, who has a background as a leadership-seminar instructor, has a way of interlacing show-business icons with figures from the social movement, so “Respect” ends up being as much about Donna Reed, Annette Funicello and Marilyn Monroe as it does Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks and Betty Friedan.

If “Respect” is overloaded with Top 40 ditties about boy lust, it also has a few honest things to say about the immigrant experience, alcoholic husbands, single moms and the indomitable spirit of the female psyche. But instead of operating like a blistering social critique, it comes off as a warmhearted, generous and life-affirming piece of entertainment pie.

Featherweight though it may be, “Respect” honors the first tenet of musical theater. When there’s no other way to express an emotion, do a song. “Tall Paul.” “Animal Crackers in My Soup.” “Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do.” “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” “I Am Woman.” “Bend Me, Shape Me.”

Part of the fun is guessing which tune will pop up next. Are you ready, girls?

THE 411: 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Open-ended. $39.50. 14th Street Playhouse, 173 14th St., Midtown. 404-733-4750; www.woodruff center.org/14thstplayhouse

THE VERDICT: Where the girls are: a giddy and infectious jukebox revue.