This Friday, Stephens College will be presenting RESPECT: a Musical Journey of Women, which will run from May 2 to May 4, and again from May 7 to May 9. The musical is written by Vanderbilt professor Dr. Dorothy Marcic, author of RESPECT: Women and Popular Music.
The show uses Top 40 hits from female musicians to show the journey of women through time. Dorothy, the only named character in the show, is the narrator of the story, while the seven other cast members shuffle through various other roles throughout the show, including Rosa Parks, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop and Dorothy’s grandmother.
Director Millie Garvey is no stranger to Stephens: RESPECT will mark her nineteenth production with the college. Garvey is from St. Louis, but says she’s enjoyed being a guest director for all these years.
Garvey says this show is fitting for Stephens because it is “written by a woman (and) it’s about women,” making it a logical choice for a women’s college.
The show becomes an “outline for women,” using Dorothy, the narrator, as a medium for the storytelling, Garvey says. The story is “our journey in our lives from … young girls to young love to losing people and going through that ugly stage where you didn’t get anything you wanted, and breakups, and it’s all told through the music, which is fun.”
Senior Emma Mae Marston, who plays Dorothy, says she feels a lot of responsibility to the story. The actors are all on stage practically the entire show, so they have to give their all 100 percent of the time.
“Whatever you’re going through, it doesn’t matter how hard your day was or if you didn’t get that much sleep last night, you’ve gotta deliver,” Marston says. “You’ve gotta give all you can at rehearsals. That’s what I’ve really taken from this is how important it is to just give it your all.”
The show features over 40 songs, from “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Almost no songs are sung all the way through, keeping the show moving as the story progresses. Senior Ryan Tucker says it’s helped her learn how to keep her energy up throughout the whole show.
The show is a non-stop musical revue, full of hit songs and exciting lighting and costumes, but Garvey says it is so much more than that. She says it allows women to take a step back and realize that they are not going through anything alone.
“(You don’t see) until you all get much older and realize … patterns develop (and that there are) things … that all women go through,” Garvey says. “That’s the thing about empowerment. When you’re empowered, you’re empowered because of people before you and what you can do after.”