When a Piece is Practically 100 Years Old and Still Being Produced, That Means Something

Ain’t Misbehavin’ The Fats Waller Show, Title Inspired by Waller's 1929 Song is Currently Playing at the California Center for the Arts Escondido Until October 8 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

The cast and band of Ain’t Misbehavin’ The Fats Waller Show

Fats Waller was an American jazz musician, composer, and innovator. This musical is an absolute celebration of music and dance where each song is a little story set in piano bars, clubs, and swing. Set during the Harlem Renaissance, the performers in Ain’t Misbehavin’ portray Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, and the Dandridge Sisters as they begin to shape this art form alongside Thomas “Fats” Waller. 

Like we say in Spanish, this production is "de manteles largos" (long table cloths) because the direction of the piece is by Ken Page who created the role of "Ken" in the original Broadway production. The cast for the Escondido piece includes Paula Galloway as Nell, Felecia Fairley as Charlaine, Katie Porter in the role of Armelia, Mark Antony Howard is Andre and DeAndre Simmons is Ken. Stephen Gifford's scenic design along with Steven Young's lighting design sets the perfect club mood, -cocktail seating included- having musical director Lanny Hartley playing piano on a moving platform. Hartley is facing the cast most of the show and has his back to the audience which is part of the many charms of this production. It truly gives audiences the nightclub, variety feel. The cast makes a great ensemble and really brings it to the audience. Paula Galloway is saucy with an amazing voice and comedic flare. Felecia Fairley as well as delivering great vocals brings physicality to the piece, Katie Porter delivers too comedic flare and game. In the male roles, Mark Antony Howard is an agile and gifted dancer. DeAndre Simmons's opera training shines through as he coats the songs with a smooth, velvety bass vocal.

The production has its own jazz band with its musicians playing onstage at different levels and that definitely adds to the experience.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ The Fats Waller Show is an older, seasoned piece that debuted on Broadway in 1978 with a book by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby Jr., and music by various composers and lyricists as arranged and orchestrated by Luther Henderson. The title song just like Honeysuckle Rose were created in 1929 and inducted into the Grammy hall of fame 60 and 70 years later. To be able to keep producing this work and continue its life for new generations to experience and learn about it is pure jazz

The rest of the creative team includes choreographer Lacy Darryl Phillips, Blake McCarty in projection design, sound designer Paul Durso, costume designer Janet Pitcher, wig & hair design Louticia Greer, assistant stage manager Olivia Pence, and production stage manager Kira Vine.     

Be sure to catch this production currently playing until October 8. For performance times and ticket prices please click here.                            

*Footnote: Sometimes when there are 4 or more shows in the queue to write about, errors can happen quicker and easier. If there are any names or roles misspelled and misplaced, please let us know by filling out the "contact us" form on the lower right-hand side.           



No comments:

Post a Comment