The Song Is You! Concert Series

The Song Is You! celebrates the songs and artists that give the art form its passion and significance. These concerts showcase the finest theater songs while exploring the cultural and historical impact of musical theater as an American art form. Often referred to as a “docu–concert” or live documentary, each TMTP concert combines live performance with dozens of rare still images and video clips.

UP NEXT: SEIZE THE DAY!

Sunday, November 6th | 3 PM | Fairmount Temple | Tickets $35

Many centuries ago, the Roman poet Horace put it this way: “Carpe diem!” But whatever language you choose, it’s one of the biggest themes in the American musical. Our goal is to inspire you to stand up, fling open the door and make the most of every minute of your life, armed with songs like “Open a New Window,” “Comes Once in a Lifetime,” “No Day but Today,” “Some Enchanted Evening” and Sondheim’s “The Miller’s Son.” Featuring CAITLIN HAMM, JOE MONAGHAN, NANCY MAIER, and BILL RUDMAN.


TMTP CANCELS “I’M GETTING MY ACT TOGETHER…”

The Musical Theater Project and Kent State University have canceled TMTP’s annual collaboration with KSU’s musical theater program: a musical-in-concert scheduled for Nov. 6 at Cleveland’s Fairmount Temple and Nov. 7 at KSU. The show was to have been 1978’s I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road by Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford, directed by Terri Kent. It is considered to be the first mainstream feminist musical.

The announcement was made by TMTP Founder and Artistic Director Bill Rudman.

Professor Tony Hardin, KSU’s recently appointed Director of the School of Theatre and Dance, admires the TMTP/KSU partnership and what it contributes to the arts community, but he doesn’t feel the musical is the appropriate one for this moment: “Our world and society has always been complex,” he said, “but the pause in our industry caused by COVID-19 has allowed all of us, including our students, to be incredibly aware of what was, what is and what will be. Our industry, craft and artform is part of this awareness.

“The mental well-being of the students, staff and faculty of Kent State University is my primary responsibility, and consequently, we cannot produce I’m Getting My Act Together… at this time.”

Said Rudman: “The authors and I respectfully disagree with Professor Hardin.”

GRETCHEN CRYER’S RESPONSE

Dear Mr. Hardin and Ms. Kent:

Nancy Ford and I were disappointed to hear about the cancellation of the production of I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road, but we were most concerned that the reason for the cancellation had been that the show had been deemed “sexist, racist and homophobic.” After hearing that assessment we then received the official statement which declared that the show had been canceled because it might have harmed the mental well-being of the students, faculty and staff.

Somehow you have drastically misread and misinterpreted the show. As the authors of the show, based on your response to it, we feel compelled to tell you what the musical is about.

In the broadest sense the whole play is about the main character’s struggle against the white male patriarchy—her struggle against sexism.

Here is a brief synopsis: Heather Jones has written a new cabaret act, writing songs that cast aside the old 1950s definitions of what a woman should be—pliant and subservient to the men in her life. She wants to redefine herself as a strong independent woman, in control of her own life. She shows this new act to her manager. Her manager is a sexist and a homophobe, a male chauvinist; he liked her the way she used to be—a pliant sex kitten. He wants her to go back to her old act: he says this new act will never sell.

Heather stands up to him and ultimately tells him he has to get out of her life. She goes on the road with her new act, not knowing if it will “sell” or not, but she has to be true to herself.

Clearly this is not a sexist message.

As for the purported racism—the allusion to minstrelsy in “Smile” is a comment on white male patriarchy’s historic need to portray those it oppresses as somehow enjoying their own oppression, as well as the main character’s reluctant complicity in it. That you have perceived this as racism is deeply concerning. Portraying the common links of oppression is intersectionality, not racism.

We are writing you not because we want you to withdraw the cancellation, but simply to make clear the intent of the piece. When the show opened in 1978 at Joe Papp’s Public Theater, sexual politics were a hot topic, and so every Wednesday night the cast had a talk-back with the audience after the show. The conversations were electric and a lot of lives were changed. The show ran 1,165 performances in New York, a year in Chicago and a year in L.A., with a national tour and productions all over the world. Not once was the show ever labeled “sexist.” It was particularly gratifying that Gloria Steinem and the whole Ms. magazine editorial staff came to see the show multiple times. Last week when I told Gloria that the show had been canceled at Kent because it was deemed sexist she was appalled and unbelieving that the show could have been so misinterpreted.

As for harming the mental well-being of the students, faculty and staff, I have no idea how they could have had their mental well-being harmed by seeing a piece in which a white sexist homophobic male is given the boot by a strong woman.

Sincerely, Gretchen Cryer

A CHRISTMAS CABARET

December 9 (8:00 PM) and 10 (2:00 PM), Stocker Arts Center, Cirigliano Studio Theatre | December 11 and 12 (7:00 PM), Edwins Too on Shaker Square

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OUR HUCKLEBERRY FRIEND: THE LYRICS OF JOHNNY MERCER

January 28 (7:30 PM), Maltz Performing Arts Center

The Songs of Johnny Mercer (co-produced with Cleveland Jazz Orchestra)

COUNTERCULTURES

April 30 (7:30 PM), Fairmount Temple

Exploring Hair and Rent

GEORGE M. COHAN, THE MAN WHO OWNED BROADWAY

June 25 (3 PM), Maltz Performing Arts Center

Celebrating the Father of Musical Comedy (co-produced with American Musical Productions)