I'M GETTING MY ACT TOGETHER & TAKING IT ON THE ROAD -- At Ford's Theater through February 22.
She says it's honest, and he says it's hostile.
You say tomato and I say . . .
I say it's apples and oranges. The conflict that is supposed to serve as an excuse for the many good songs of "I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road," now at Ford's Theater, is between two unopposing forces.
This show, originally produced by Joseph Papp in New York, is a psycho-hoofer musical. That is, it concerns the soul under the leotard. Papp may have launched this combination of the show-biz show and show-and-tell with "A Chorus Line," but many others have since taken to using this pap to hold their songs or dances together. When the stage is set for an early rehearsal, but it's actually opening night or later, that's what's coming.
In this case, it's the soul of an appealingly anxious singer and songwriter named Heather Jones, who is born again, on her 39th birthday, as a feminist. It's the afternoon of a crucial opening night for her new act. Her manager and old friend, who is also sweet, has been out of town and, seeing this act for the first time when he had expected her previous, submissive love songs, he tries to persuade her to change back.
The apples-and-oranges part of that she argues that she has to do it her way because "It's an explanation of where I'm coming from," and he argues that some of the material is bad. They are both right, and one has nothing to do with the other. And when she says it's "a question of integrity" and he says people don't want to hear anything personal, they're both wrong.
Are nightclub acts judged on the sincerity of their philosophy" Is it elementary feminism too radical for popular-music audiences? These silly premises are discussed at great length, while the real audience can plainly see that she has terrific songs, interpersed with some weak skits that should be cut. The fact is that the same simple thoughts that lend themselves beautifully to song lyrics sound simplistic when made into playlet speeches.
"Miss America" ("Where are you today?"), "Strong Woman Number" (which asks why the admirers of strong women go home to their weak wives), and "Old Friend" (about platonic love) are three of the songs by Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford that make this show worthwhile. Louisa Flaningam and Ralph Byers, in the leading roles, are charming and sympathetic.
Perhaps if they didn't spend the last precious rehearsal time discussing their souls, they could get this act together.