By Lori Perkins
As soon as I learned this musical was in production, I knew I was going to go because I published the essays of the writing students of Pamela DesBarres, author of I’m with the Band, one of rock’n’roll’s most famous groupies.
For me, the 2000 movie by Cameron Crowe (who also wrote and produced this musical and is at the theater almost every night of the play – more on that later in this piece!), was about how easy it is to discount the muse, especially when the muse is a woman in our society. Of course, for a lot of men, Almost Famous was a story of how fame/success corrupts the soul. But for me, it was always a movie about the women.
And this musical is all about the women, so much so that the Cameron Crowe stand-in character of William Miller only has one song, while Penny Lane and the Band-Aids dominate the show. As they should.
Which is why this re-imagining of the movie 20 years later was so much more powerful for me. I felt that the message was more clear-cut, and timely, in that we, as a culture, are finally seeing and showing how women have been ignored and mistreated even when pursing “freedom.”
Which, of course, is all about what Miss Pamela’s Writing School for Electric Ladies, the first collection of essays by the women who have taken her writing classes, is all about – the toll this American life takes on women day to day.
I was lucky enough to see the musical with four of the essayists in the collection, who “dolled” up in 70’s-style groupie clothing, only to actually meet Cameron Crowe during the intermission, and give him a copy of the book! To which he exclaimed, “thank you for what you do!” This is a man who gets it! And so does the musical.
All the musical’s individual elements are almost perfect too – cast is superb, costumes are so authentic that I can remember wearing some of these clothes, rock music chosen is spot-on, new songs are perfect, the set is simple and clever, and the attention to detail is sublime.