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I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On The Road – Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording

I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On The Road – Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording



The year is 1978, the place, Greenwich Village. On the afternoon of her thirty-ninth birthday, Heather Jones is rehearsing for opening night of her new cabaret act. Her old friend and manager, Joe, arrives. “Okay, what have you got for me?” “A lot of new stuff,” she tells him, and Heather sings her first song, “Natural High.”

Joe wants Heather to soup up the ending, but Heather wants to leave it wistful. Heather tells Joe that her new act is going to reflect all the changes she’s gone through. After a lifetime of trying to be who everybody else needs her to be, now she’s going to be herself! She’s going to tell the audience she’s thirty-nine and laugh at her wrinkles and the one gray hair that she has discovered this morning. Joe says nobody needs to know that she’s thirty-nine, and he doesn’t know how he’s going to sell wrinkles and gray hair. But not to worry – “We’ll fix it with lights.” Heather launches into a personal number about her past – “Smile.”

Heather is recently divorced and has written a passionate speech for her act: “I am standing here on my thirty-ninth birthday wondering if it is at all possible for men and women to have decent constructive relationships with each other when our culture and our pasts so conspire against it – when we can hardly pick our way through the myths and distortions of what we are. Our very definitions of love depend upon the extent to which we ‘feel like a man’ or ‘feel like a woman,’ which depends on our culture’s definition of what it is to be a man or a woman. And so what feels like love is often a function of how well we are fulfilling our culture’s stereotypes of what it is to be a man or a woman …” Joe falls off his chair at this treatise as Heather bursts into “Miss America.”

Heather is trying to break through the stereotypes, but this doesn’t make her lucky in love. “God damn it! I’ve spent my whole life improving myself until I am a magnificent person, and no one, no one wants to share my life.” Heather and her two back-up singers, Cheryl and Alice, agree that this “Strong Woman Number” isn’t working. This song triggers an outburst from Joe – “It’s ball-breaking hostility! Women are getting very hostile these days. A man can’t trust a woman anymore.”

It turns out that his outburst is fueled by the fact that his child-like dependent wife Francesca, whom he has supported and nurtured, has just declared her independence by having an affair. But he can’t leave her because she needs him and would kill herself if he left. Even though Heather has never liked Francesca, she sympathizes with Joe and talks about her own ill-fated marriage. She recalls her Daddy’s instructions about finding a husband – “Don’t act too smart, you know.”

So Heather had married Tommy and had taken her vows – “To be his help-mate, build him up when he’s down, bear his children, send his pants to the cleaners, pick his underwear up off the floor, hold a job that’ll bring in a little extra money, but which won’t absorb you to the point where you won’t be able to have supper ready at six-o’clock every night.” She had smiled for Tommy and had tried to make him happy, had tried to be who he wanted – the perfect wife. “But it wasn’t honest,” she says. “I had to manipulate things so that he would finally leave. He felt guilty as hell leaving Mrs. Perfect. It was utterly devious and disgusting behavior. I should write him a letter of apology.” Instead she has written him a song – “Dear Tom.”

Joe likes that song because it’s not a “ball-breaker.” Heather realizes that even though they have their differences of opinion, Joe has always been someone she could go to for a “sympathetic macho viewpoint.” “Underneath this tough macho exterior,” he tells her, “I’m a cream puff.” Heather sings “Old Friend,” the song she has written for the cream puff in Joe. Joe loves it. “You are one of the most wonderful women I’ve every known. You’re strong. You know, to tell you the truth, I wish my wife were like you … so that I could leave her.” Heather shrieks her outrage. Jake, her lead guitarist, fifteen years younger, tries to calm her down. He brings forth a birthday cake and sings to her – “In a Simple Way I Love You.”

But Heather isn’t ready for Jake yet. She is still furious with Joe and pours all her defiance into her next number – “Put in a Package.” Joe likes it. “You’re cute when you’re mad.” Again she shrieks, “You like it for the wrong reasons!!” She is totally frustrated by the fact that she can’t get through to Joe. He wants her to go back to her old act. “It was sweet. It was nice. It worked. This new act is angry, confused and offensive.” Heather says she won’t go back to the old act. She wants to be a new woman, her own woman. “If you can’t give me room to grow,” she says, “you’ll have to get out of my life!” “Well,” Joe replies, “it looks like the new woman has made her bed and now she’s going to have to lie in it … alone.” But Heather’s been alone before. She was alone when she was two years old. Alone when she was married. “That’s what my act is all about, being alone. So go ahead and leave, Joe.

This is what I have to do.” Joe leaves.

With the band, Heather sings “Feel the Love,” and alone, “Lonely Lady.” She pulls herself together. It’s her birthday after all, and a birthday is a celebration that a person is born – that she is who she is. “Happy Birthday!” She’s ready to take her act on the road and celebrate with her friends and her music – “Natural High (Reprise).”



Joe…………Joel Fabiani
Heather…Gretchen Cryer
Alice……..Margot Rose
Cheryl…..Betty Aberlin
Jake………Don Scardino

Book and lyrics by GRETCHEN CYRER
Directed by WORD BAKER
Costumes by PEARL SOMNER
Lighting by MARTIN TUDOR
Produced for Records by EDWARD KLEBAN
Associate Album Producer CRAIG ZADAN
Reissue Executive Album Producer BILL MEADE
A New York Shakespeare Festival Production