I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road @JsTheatre
Time heals everything they say. It has been over thirty years since London has seen I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road. And watching it at the Jermyn Street Theatre is like a trip back in time. When you arrive there is a band getting ready for the show, and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a cabaret spot from the 1970s. Complete with pantsuits, glitter makeup and records on the wall. It is a terrific looking production that makes you feel like walking down the steps to the theatre you have been in a time machine.
But with its handful of songs and themes about the role of women, it almost feels as it time has stood still. The dialogue may be firmly rooted in the 1970s (and often a bit predictable), but the themes of female empowerment and being independent seem as if we haven't come so far since..
The show is about Heather Jones (Landi Oshinowo), a star who had a hit with an treacly love song, trying to impress her manager with her new material ahead of opening night for her new act. The rehearsal becomes the basis for the musical exploring her age, her break-ups and the expectations on women. Her manager Joe (Nic Colicos), who she had a past relationship with, doesn't like everything he hears.
This musical has been largely forgotten except perhaps for its song "Old Friend", which Michael Feinstein continues to champion with his near forensic-like analysis of its depth and meaning. But the rest of the songs written by Nancy Ford are just as good as they explore Heather's past and future.
Curiously it is when the band isn't playing and the cast isn't singing that the show feels a little flat. Written by Gretchen Cryer based on her own life experiences it seems to unbelievable. The banter between Heather and Joe is often repetitive and tedious. There isn't much here for Colicos to do other than say things to make the audience wince (just the same way it probably did in 1979).
But the cast and the music keep this show on track. Oshinowo gives a nuanced performance as a performer wanting to break out. Along with backing singers Rosanna Hyland and Kristen Gaetz, when they sing it really is (as one of the songs say) a natural high and make this show a memorable experience.
Band and cast members Alice Offley, David Gibbons, Nick Barstow and Rich Craig round out the group.
Directed by Matthew Gould, I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On The Road runs through to 23 July at Jermyn Street Theatre.