‘Respect: A Musical Journey of Women’
Traces Women’s Journey to Independence

Let’s Go South Magazine
August 8, 2007
Review by Melissa Gilman

At First I was afraid – I was petrified – Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side – But I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong – I grew strong – I learned how to carry on

Gloria Gaynor’s 1979 disco hit, “I Will Survive” was an anthem for the women’s movement. It reflected the cultural shift away from women’s reliance on and deference to men to women’s self reliance.

That song inspired Dorothy Marcic at a time when she wasn’t self-assured. But Little Peggy March’s “I Will Follow Him” more aptly described her state of mind.

“I was so codependent when I was younger. I really wanted to please the man. If he asked me, ‘what do you want to do?’ I wouldn’t have an opinion. I’d say, ‘I don’t care. What do you want to do?’”

Marcic, (pronounced Mar-sick), a Fulbright Scholar and professor at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, realized the history of women’s independence and role in society was reflected in popular music over the past 100 years. Her pop culture take on the topic, “Respect: Women and Popular Music” was published in 2002. Her musical version premiered in 2003 in Nashville.

“Respect” is a 4-woman show featuring CDT veteran Timotha Lanae, who was chosen to go to Hollywood as a finalist in American Idol last season, as well as newcomers Seri Johnson, Emily Skinner and Andrea Uselman-Brandt. Understudies are Melinda Moore and Austene Van.

More than 60 songs from 1900 to 2000 are intermingled with monologues and representations of famous real women and archetypes including Rosa Parks, Rosie the Riveter and Betty Boop.

Marcic, who was recently in town consulting with the CDT cast and crew, said “Respect” is not about bashing men nor is it an academic treatise on feminism.

“You can take the musical on many different levels. I want this to be for everyone, for it to be uplifting. It’s supposed to be fun,” she said.

It’s entertainment first and foremost but don’t be surprised if you relearn a thing or two.

For example, women did not receive the right to vote until 133 years after the U.S. Constitution guaranteed men that same right. Or talk about high unemployment — approximately six million women lost their jobs when WWII ended in 1945 and men returned from military service.

Marcic said she has heard from many men who, after seeing the musical, have told her they finally understand what the women’s movement is all about.

“Sometimes it’s easier to swallow things if you have some humor in it,” Marcic said. “Like a spoon full of sugar.”