Reddy or Not!
nytheatre.com review by David Reinwald
August 15, 2004
When performers Joanna Parson and Lance Werth accidentally end up in the same dream sequence, this show and the battle for the ultimate Helen Reddy fanship begin. The performers play caricatures of themselves—Joanna, an independent, sultry woman opposite Lance, an overly excited gay man.
The show is a montage of vignettes of the drama, the insecurities, and the rescuing sentimentality of Miss (or is that Ms.?) Helen Reddy in Joanna and Lance's lives. For those unaware, Helen Reddy was noted for her feminist musical idiom of the '70s including such hits as “I Am Woman” and “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady.”
While the show is truly less of an homage to Reddy herself, it is a sign of the times, showing us the ways that music enwraps us in splendor as a metaphor for our lives. Here, it also entraps us in comic jest. Reddy or Not! is full of lighthearted campiness, where the music gets us to tap our toes and throws us back to an era gone by. Midway through, Parson brings the show to its height with her soulful singing of “Angie Baby.” Meanwhile, Werth’s jovial expression and playfulness add to the charm of the performance.
While I admittedly did not connect to or understand every comic subtlety jam-packed into the one-hour show, the audience remained incredibly amused, seeming to find a piece of themselves in every corner. The show emphasizes a certain type of giddy enjoyment that is a welcome release, even when it feels like it's a step away from powerful statements Reddy’s music was really trying to emanate. However, the real question is what would Helen, who is still alive and kickin’ in her sixties, think of all of this? Was her music of serious intent or just a passing fancy?
“You and Me Against the World” . . . Joanna and Lance? You decide.