I think you’re right. She hasn’t been putting herself out there. Regardless of the factual Fanny, the show’s Fanny has been unaware of love or sexual feelings. The verse of the song is very telling…she thinks she recognizes in Nickie someone who is exempt from human connection, too. And “I guess we’re both lucky but maybe we ain’t” is telling. It’s dawning on her that there’s a life beyond the achievements of career. So…for her…the thought is a “but first” thought. She’s noticing this doorway to human connection as being an imperative. She never noticed it before. And then, at the end of Act One, she comes into her own as a human who embraces her need for love. And then, in the show’s finale, she is completely broken by having opened her heart. And yet, a deeper emotional twist, she digs deep into herself to find something to use to get her through this…her talent and self-expression and perhaps even a Scarlett O’Hara-like determination that tomorrow is another day.
I think the lyrics for the songs are just terrific. Witty and quite well considered. And “I’ll light up like a light” is a great use of “Ahh-ee” over and over again.