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"Respect: A Musical Journey of Women" returns to South Florida

Staff Writer

If “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women” comes off a little like a musical revue morphed from a lecture, well, then that is because essentially it is.

Staged at the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center with competency, if not panache, by the Boca Raton Theatre Guild through Jan. 5, the show is based on professor Dr. Dorothy Marcic’s book “Respect: Women and Popular Music.”

Her voice, channeled through narrator Sharyn Peoples, is still front and center in a production that, much like its literary origin, traces women’s roles through the American songbook. If you have a Y chromosome, don’t panic. True, the all-white stage is awash with estrogen, but whatever sharp edges “Respect” has are reserved for endless (!!) self-analysis and empowerment anthems rather than man-hating.

The revue -- which evokes everything from “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey” and “Someone to Watch Over Me” to “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and “I Will Survive” -- has a long history in South Florida with long runs back in 2004 at both the Cuillo Centre in West Palm Beach and 2005 at the 26th Street Theatre in Wilton Manors. In 2011 a production was mounted at Coral Springs Center for the Arts.

No, there isn’t anything new being said in “Respect,” which is from the same mold as jukebox jumbles such as “Menopause: The Musical,” “Girl’s Night: The Musical” and “Waist Watchers – The Musical.”

These kinds of shows require the cast to be ebullient-to-the-third-power from lights-up to curtain-down, so the pace is always fluid to keep the sheer number of songs – both full versions and little snippets – from wearing out everyone’s welcome.

I think I counted close to 60, but admittedly I lost track once we got to Janis Joplin’s “Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart” and Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen.”

Sharing the stage with Peoples are three powerhouse vocalists: Carla Bordonada, Nicole Kinzel and Ziarra Washington – each finding their own moment to effortlessly hold focus center stage. They are supported by a three-piece combo pumping out more sound than seems possible from keyboards (the show’s original musical director, Phil Hinton), bass (Ranses Colon) and percussion (Tom Hinton).

The good news is that whatever issues the sound system at the Center had seem to have been worked out with nary a pop, hiss or crackle heard throughout the 90-minute performance with a 15-minute intermission. The bad news is with the show’s book, which begs for more sass and bite.

Also, the story is tripping right along at first in what seems like a chronological order (starting at Lilly Langtry circa 1901 and ending somewhere around India.Arie’s “Video” in 2002). But somewhere in there the show became a little unhinged, jumping around anachronistically. Thank goodness for the slides projects on each side of the stage giving us visual reference every now and then.

Of course. What else would you expect from a good PowerPoint presentation … with some jams thrown in?


‘Respect: A Musical Journey of Women’

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays–Saturdays; 2 p.m. matinees Wednesdays and Sundays (special New Year’s Eve shows at 4 and 9 p.m. on Dec. 31)

Where: The Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center, 201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton

Cost: $38

Contact: 866-811-4111 or


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