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A CurtainUp Review
Getting Their Act Together Again
By Elyse Sommer
The one thing the title character of Anne of Green Gables most wants is a bosom chum. Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford, whose musical adaptation of that beloved children's book for Theater Works/USA is currently at the Lucille Lortel Theater (review), have themselves been chums since their days at De Pauw University, a small Methodist school in Greencastle, Indiana. Both married fellow DePauw-ers. The marriages didn't last but the chumship did and evolved into a professional collaboration with Cryer as book writer-lyricist and Ford as composer, both women often performing as well.
In 1970 the Cryer-Ford team won critical praise with an Off-Broadway musical called The Last Sweet Days of Isaac which consisted of two one-act plays backed by a 5-man rock group. But their break-through work and the one that won them life-long admirers (including this writer) was I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road which, after premiering at the Public Theatre in 1978 moved to The Circle in the Square downtown for a three year run and seeded productions around the world and recordings in five languages.
But while these talented women have remained chums and collaborators since their college days, they've not been on stage together for a long time. Until now, when you can catch them at the intimate Holiday E Cafe until April 20th. If you do your arithmetic, you'll know that the women are well past the first blush of youth. If you look at them (and given the size of the venue, it's a close look), they still look and sound younger than Springtime. Their show, aptly called Getting Their Act Together Again! is a delightful and smartly organized mix of autobiographical patter and songs, with Cryer doing most of the singing and Ford providing the piano accompaniment and joining in for the vocals as called for.
There are seventeen songs — eighteen if you count the sure to be demanded encore number, the very timely "News" from Getting Their Act Together. Naturally, there's more from that show ("Smile Dear Tom"). Whatever the source, Cryer's story-telling lyrics have aged as well as their creator. Nice as it was to hear somgs from their produced shows, which, in recent years have included family musicals for the American Girl Company's own theater and Theater Works/USA, one of this presentation's most intriguing segments focused on a musical about FDR and his family which has gone through many rewrites and re-namings but has as yet to make it to a major theater. Ford's music for this group of songs is bouncy and melodic yet with a distinct new music flavor.
The night I was at 59e59, some of the Anne of Green Gables performers were on hand and obviously thrilled to hear these old friends singing (what else?) "Old Friend." These charming old friends had a great time getting their act together again— as all who come will. Drinks are served at intermission but there's no obligatory cover charge.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide