‘Respect: A Musical Journey of Women’ is inspiring fun for all women

Empowerment, strength, self-ownership and respect. These are the messages at the heart of “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women,” a musical playing at Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix through this Saturday, Feb. 12.

The show leads the audience on a musical journey through the 20th century with the help of Top 40 songs from female artists during each decade. Four women take turns singing songs from some of the greatest female voices to ever be recorded while storylines weave their way into the show to help transition the audience from decade to decade.

Setting takes a backseat to songs in the musical; as the actresses quickly move the show along, the set stays the same. There’s only a stage, a band, a stand with records set to the side and three circles hang over the stage displaying images that enhance the show and audience members’ understanding of each decade.

The show isn’t about being flashy or displaying outrageous set pieces, costumes, lighting or anything else. It’s about the progression of women from basically being their husband’s property (“Stand by Your Man”) to women standing up for themselves and coming to the realization that “I Will Survive,” with or without a man.

Dorothy Marcic, author of “RESPECT: Women and Popular Music,” the book that was the basis or the musical, said that “for college students and high school students, when they’ve seen the show, they often come to me afterwards and say, ‘I didn’t know how hard it was for our mothers and grandmothers.’”

The images hovering above the stage are even used to poke fun at well-known people. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is shown during “Sweet Talking Guy” toward the beginning of the second act. The comedic timing of seeing Arpaio’s face while listening to the lyrics, “He's a sweet talkin' guy. Stay away from him. No, no, no, you'll never win,” was priceless.

“A number of women who’ve seen the show over the years have e-mailed me afterwards who say things like, ‘I never realized I was in an abusive relationship until I went to your show, and I went and then I broke up with my boyfriend,’” Marcic said.

A percentage from ticket sales and merchandise sales from the show benefit Marcic’s not-for-profit, “Respect Project Inc.,” whose mission is to help women make smart decisions for their futures.

Tickets can be purchased online at herbergertheater.org. The theater is located at 222 E. Monroe St., near ASU’s Downtown campus. For more information, visit the Herberger Theater Center’s box office or call 602-252-8497.

Reach the reporter at mmattox@asu.edu

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