Montgomery Media
April 29, 2009
By Carry Compton, Staff Writer

Starring in the Act II Playhouse production of “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women,” running from May 5 to June 28, 2009 are (L to R) Lois Sach Binder, Cheryl Williams, Jennifer Lorae and Danielle G. Herbert.

Perhaps the biggest difference between a modern-day woman and women of the ’50s or ’60s is the wide expanse of choices that are now available. Where once a woman’s life was dictated by a societal fervor that demanded conformity, now the average woman has many different socially acceptable avenues she might take in her journey through life.

It is with this notion in mind that “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women” takes audiences through time via pop songs and their lyrics, says Bud Martin, who directs this latest musical production to come from Ambler’s Act II Playhouse.

“This show is about showing the path women have taken from being codependent to independent and accepting their choices, no matter what that choice is — the choice of having a job, the choice of being a mother or the desire to do both,” said Martin.

While the theme of women’s rise to near-equal status with men could sound heavy-handed or somber, Martin emphasizes that the production is going to be an upbeat frolic through musical history.

“One of the things [audiences are left with] at the end of play is that life is all about having fun. I don’t want to overanalyze and make it too much of a social commentary because at the end it’s about having fun.”

While the ending segments of the production lead the audience on an feel-good joy ride with songs like “Hero” and “I Will Survive,” Martin cannot deny how struck he was by the lyrics that populated the airwaves during the ’50s and ’60s. Their message of longing, codependency and discontentment, as evidenced by “My Man,” a song featured in “Respect.” With lyrics like “He isn’t true / He beats me, too / What can I do? … What’s the difference if I say I’ll go away / When I know I’ll come back /On my knees someday,” one can clearly see why Martin was so surprised.

Women do indeed have plenty of choices these days, and entertainment is just one of many. But with the combination of nostalgia, fun pop music and the promise of an empowering ending, it seems that this is one choice that should be clear.