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Respect: A Musical Celebration of Women at the Lyceum

About half way into Dorothy Marcic's revue, a shiny black rotary phone sits on a chair center-stage. Kelsey Venter kneels before it transfixed. When it doesn't ring, she grows antsy and begins singing the Vikki Carr hit "It Must Be Him."

The phone still doesn't ring, so she really sings: "Let it please be him, oh dear God/It MUST be him, or I shall die/Or I SHALL DIE." Wrong number, more silence, and Venter stark raving over the top mad belts out the lyrics like the world's loudest suicide note.

Venter's a riot. She portrays a pre-social media event that could take on epic proportions, back when: awaiting THE CALL. The set piece also stands out because it's one of the few times Respect pulls off the speedway and does a complete number. More often than not the revue powers through fragments of 50 popular women's songs, which flash past like road signs.

Marcic wrote Respect: Woman and Popular Music, which analyzes the lyrics of popular songs in the 20th century and identifies women's evolving status. The musical came from the book. A narrator (based on Marcic) tells the story of the women in her family through the songs they sang.

These are fairly predictable. What's different: Respect calls careful attention to the lyrics - and de-codes them, showing how the familiar words underline values women were expected to embrace ("Stand By Your Man" and "I Will Follow Him" urge traditional roles, as does "Bend Me, Shape Me"). As the show, and the century, progresses, the coding shifts from dependence on a man to the independence of "These Boots Are Made," "You Don't Own Me," and "I Will Survive."

The brief excerpts frustrate because the four woman cast could belt them with brass and pizazz. When they finally have a spotlit number, they shine.

Leigh Scarritt (the Narrator) nails "Piece of My Heart," "Beautiful," and the tranquil "In My Daugher's Eyes." Nancy Snow Carr's "Whatever Lola Wants" is a kick, and her imitations of Patsy and Marilyn Monroe ("Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" - talk about encoding!!) are spot on. Venter excels throughout, as does Lisa H. Payton, whose voice has an extra gear. Just when you think she's maxing out, she kicks it up - with "God Bless the Child" and "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around."

Although the videos, projected on three circles, often lack sharpness, the sound design is tops, as is Cris O'Bryon's four-piece band, with Jim Mooney blazing on guitar.


Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, downtown, playing through June 24.

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About half way into Dorothy Marcic's revue, a shiny black rotary phone sits on a chair center-stage. Kelsey Venter kneels before it transfixed. When it doesn't ring, she grows antsy and begins singing the Vikki Carr hit "It Must Be Him."

The phone still doesn't ring, so she really sings: "Let it please be him, oh dear God/It MUST be him, or I shall die/Or I SHALL DIE." Wrong number, more silence, and Venter stark raving over the top mad belts out the lyrics like the world's loudest suicide note.

Venter's a riot. She portrays a pre-social media event that could take on epic proportions, back when: awaiting THE CALL. The set piece also stands out because it's one of the few times Respect pulls off the speedway and does a complete number. More often than not the revue powers through fragments of 50 popular women's songs, which flash past like road signs.

Marcic wrote Respect: Woman and Popular Music, which analyzes the lyrics of popular songs in the 20th century and identifies women's evolving status. The musical came from the book. A narrator (based on Marcic) tells the story of the women in her family through the songs they sang.

These are fairly predictable. What's different: Respect calls careful attention to the lyrics - and de-codes them, showing how the familiar words underline values women were expected to embrace ("Stand By Your Man" and "I Will Follow Him" urge traditional roles, as does "Bend Me, Shape Me"). As the show, and the century, progresses, the coding shifts from dependence on a man to the independence of "These Boots Are Made," "You Don't Own Me," and "I Will Survive."

The brief excerpts frustrate because the four woman cast could belt them with brass and pizazz. When they finally have a spotlit number, they shine.

Leigh Scarritt (the Narrator) nails "Piece of My Heart," "Beautiful," and the tranquil "In My Daugher's Eyes." Nancy Snow Carr's "Whatever Lola Wants" is a kick, and her imitations of Patsy and Marilyn Monroe ("Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" - talk about encoding!!) are spot on. Venter excels throughout, as does Lisa H. Payton, whose voice has an extra gear. Just when you think she's maxing out, she kicks it up - with "God Bless the Child" and "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around."

Although the videos, projected on three circles, often lack sharpness, the sound design is tops, as is Cris O'Bryon's four-piece band, with Jim Mooney blazing on guitar.


Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, downtown, playing through June 24.

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