I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road
Book and lyrics by Gretchen Cryer : Music by Nancy Ford
Originally produced at the Public Theatre, New York City by the New York Shakespeare Festival May 16, 1978.
London production - Apollo Theatre Opened March 31, 1981
On her 39th birthday Heather Jones is rehearsing her new cabaret act with the Liberated Man's Band. Her old friend and manager, Joe, arrives to hear the new material and Heather sings her opening number, Natural High. Joe likes the number but is worried about Heather's clothes and hairstyle.
Heather, however, has reached a stage where she has had enough of conforming to preconceived ideas of how she should look and act. From childhood she has always done her best to please men and she sings Smile to illustrate her feelings. Joe asks her to sing In a Simple Way I Love You from her old act. "Middle America will love it!" he assures her. Heather is not convinced. She then sings Miss America which sums up her feelings about the Great American Dream but Joe decides he has had enough. He pleads with Heather to go back to the old act. She insists on continuing and along with Alice and Cheryl performs a sketch about the problems women face in their attempts to be independent and yet have well-balanced relationships. In a humorous send-up of this they sing Strong Women Number during the course of which Joe leaves the stage! He returns to protest that the new act is hostile and offensive. Women are hypocrites he maintains; they cry out for liberation and then behave as badly as the men they criticise. Surprisingly, Heather agrees and confesses that in her marriage with her ex-husband, Tom, she manipulated him and made him feel guilty for their breaking up. Instead of apologising to him, she wrote him a song, Dear Tom.
Heather's feelings for Joe are reflected in a song that she has written for him, Old Friends. Joe is so touched by the song and the depth of Heather's feelings for him that he tells Heather, "I wish my wife were like you ..... so that I could leave her!" This is too much for Heather who tells Joe that he only wants someone who is dependent on him. He protests but is saved from further embarrassment by the return of the band. Jake, the band's guitarist, asks Heather why she has such a hang-up about her age and invites her to take him seriously despite their age difference. He sings In A Simple Way I Love You. Joe is not amused and demands to hear the next song Put In a Package and Sold. They are interrupted by a telephone call from Joe's home telling him that his wife has attempted suicide. He pleads with Heather to perform the old act so that he can get away to his wife. Heather in despair tells Joe that he will never be ready for her, or the "new woman", and that he might as well leave. Joe goes leaving Heather to sing on her birthday which is the time she feels is right for a person to be accepted, "that they are who they are". Lonely Lady sums up her past - Happy Birthday her future.
She ends with Natural High - the opening number of her her new act - and a new life.
- Natural High - Heather, Alice, Cheryl and the Liberated Man's Band
- Smile - Heather, Jake, Cheryl, Alice and Band
- In a Simple Way I Love You - Heather and the Band
- Miss America - Heather, Alice and Cheryl
- Strong Woman Number - Alice, Heather and Cheryl
- Dear Tom - Heather
- Old Friend - Heather
- Put In a Package and Sold - Heather, Alice and Cheryl
- If Only Things Were Different - Jake
- Feel the Love - Company
- Lonely Lady - Heather
- Happy Birthday - Heather and Company
Liberated Man's Band