Theater Review: 'I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On The Road' -- 2 stars
I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road
Composer Nancy Ford and lyricist-book writer Gretchen Cryer’s late 1970s light rock musical, which premiered at the Public Theater during producer Joseph Papp’s glory days and went on to run more than a thousand performances, is rarely seen nowadays, partially because of the assertively feminist tone that once made it so fresh.
Set in a nightclub, it revolves around Heather, a fading singer-songwriter who is on the verge of turning 40 and attempting a concert comeback, and her chauvinistic manager Joe, who has walked into her band’s rehearsal just before opening night.
Joe is less than thrilled to learn that Heather is discarding her old act of sentimental ditties and attempting to redefine her image with raw, riskier material that reflects upon her parents, ex-husband and past and present emotional states. She’s even added skits.
The songs, which are those that Heather intends to perform in concert, do not grow organically out of the dialogue. A handful of them still impress, especially the beautiful ballad “Old Friend.”
But for the most part, the musical now feels not just culturally dated but also simple minded. Joe, for instance, is a one-dimensional satire of overblown male egotism.
Renee Elise Goldberry, an absolutely vibrant performer, appears too at ease to convey Heather’s angst and edge.
Tie-dye pattern sheets fill the stage in an attempt to recreate an intimate, club-like setting, but this production certainly does seem out of place at the City Center auditorium.
Nevertheless, it must be noted that “Encores! Off-Center,” which has also presented the musicals “The Cradle Will Rock” and “Violet” over the past two weeks, is an unqualified success.
“I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road” plays at City Center through Sat. 131 W. 55th St. between Sixth and Seventh aves., 212-581-1212,