I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road review at Jermyn Street Theatre – ‘energetic’
Despite enjoying a three-year run in New York and a West End transfer, Nancy Ford and Gretchen Cryer’s 1978 feminist musical I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road has been virtually forgotten.
The show is neither a fully developed musical drama nor a song cycle, and more of a debate between performer and manager with music. Matthew Gould’s affectionate production is firmly rooted in an era of psychedelic jumpsuits and rebellious energy. Taking place over a single rehearsal, Edward Iliffe’s deeply 1970s decor is more suggestive of a domestic space – a typically feminine domain – than a professional studio.
Heather Jones is a 39-year-old singer-songwriter who has outgrown her idealistic love songs in favour of new material that better reflects her life. Her chauvinistic manager Joe (Nicolas Colicos) questions the value of such integrity if it’s not going to appeal to Middle America. Ford’s tunes, blending pop with musical theatre, are catchy and there are some witty pastiches by Cryer.
Landi Oshinowo is splendid as Heather, a down-to-earth diva in search of a studio of her own free from the control of the men who are as uncomfortable with the New Woman (or “ballbreaker”) of 1978 as their late nineteenth century forebears. Accompanied by Rosanna Hyland and Kristen Gaetz as her backing singers, the three emerge as sisters doing it for themselves.
At times this feels like an interesting companion piece to the Carole King biographical musical Beautiful – it’s just a shame that so many of the attitudes that Heather is trying to address aren’t the stuff of the past.