Marcic's Respect Not Just For the Girls

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Respect: A Musical Journey
Conceived and Written by Dorothy Marcic

Directed by David Arisco
Musical Direction by Catherine Stornetta
Scenic Design by Russ Borski
Lighting Design by Jean-Yves Tessier
Costume Design by Mary Lynne Izzo
Sound Design by StEve Shapiro

Cast (In Order of Appearance)
Rosa, Kareema M. Castro
Faith, Tiana Checchia
Eden, Amiee Collier
Dorothy/Narrator, Kathy St. George

Performances: Through November 26 at the

Stuart Street
Box Office: Online through Telecharge at, by phone at 800-447-7400 or in person at
200 Stuart Street
. for more information.

The merger between pop culture and the theatre is a trend that has been unfolding at an alarming rate in recent years. From jukebox musicals-think Mamma Mia, Movin' Out, and the upcoming The Times They Are A-Changin'-to the ever-popular movie turned musical-Hairspray, The Wedding Singer, and the upcoming High Fidelity and Legally Blonde should all ring bells-pop has made its presence known on the stage.

It should be no surprise, then, that the trend is once again hitting Boston at the Stuart Street Playhouse in Dorothy Marcic's Respect: A Musical Journey. A jukebox musical revue at it's 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.

The story line of the show-like the set and lighting design of this production-is a bit flat, but overall serves its purpose, and coherently ties together excerpts and medleys of female oriented pop music hits. 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.

There are a few sour notes here and there, though. "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" leaves a bit to be desired, "Bewitched" falls short of its potential, and Amiee Collier's "Piece of My Heart" causes momentary cringing-she seems to try a bit too hard and it seems too forced, thus reinforcing the idea that nobody-and I mean nobody-but Janis Joplin should ever sing that song publicly-but overall, there are more than enough fine moments in Respect to make up for the few and far between gaffes.

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.

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From This Author Olena Ripnick

Olena Ripnick is a Boston University journalism student and freelance writer whose introduction to the performing arts took place when she was cast as Gretel (read more...)