"Hi there fellas! What you say? This is little Fats Waller, my mother's two hundred and eighty-five pounds of jam, jive and everything." These words crackle out of an old recording, inviting us into the sometimes zany, sometimes sexy, always jazzy world of Thomas "Fats" Waller. The piano that comes out of the recording is joined first by a live piano, then by a band, and finally by five people—Armelia, Nell, Andre, Ken and Charlaine--dressed up to the nines in classic Harlem Renaissance style singing "Ain't Misbehavin'." It is a kind of paean to fidelity, yet the group then tells us it can be difficult waiting for love (Lookin' Good, But Feelin' Bad).
What sort of world is this world of Fats Waller? It's a world where, if I want to jump in the ocean, "'T Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do." It's a world where, as Nell and Ken tell us, love is as sweet as a "Honeysuckle Rose,' and Armelia lovingly coos to her 'daddy' (Squeeze Me). Most of all, it's a world of music and the wonder of stride piano, as the cast sings the praises of a "Handful Of Keys."
Nell may stand and croon demurely that "I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling," but in this place, love means dancing, whether it's hot (How Ya Baby) or sweet (Jitterbug Waltz).
Fats Waller comes from a time of big bands. Ken and Andre tell us about the women who not only looked great but sounded great as well (Ladies Who Sing With The Band). The women each take a turn with some wartime themed songs (Yacht Club," "When The Nylons Bloom Again," "Cash For Your Trash) and all three get us moving again with an infectious dance (Off-Time). The act ends with the entire cast keeping the mood high and swinging with "The Joint Is Jumpin'."
The party continues into the second act as the cast celebrates all over the five boroughs of New York (Spreadin' Rhythm Around). Ken and the gals spread it downtown in counterpoint (Loungin' At The Waldorf) and Andre spreads it uptown at a Harlem rent party (The Viper's Drag/The Reefer Song).
Parties end and love sours. Nell questions her lover in "Mean To Me" and Ken is downright cruel (in a humorous way) to his girlfriend when he tells her "Your Feet's Too Big." Andre and Armelia accuse each other of cheating (That Ain't Right) while Charlaine stays true to her man (Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now). Nell and Armelia have a bit of fun when they compare notes about men and give Charlaine some advice (Find Out What They Like). Andre and Ken then tease a man--perhaps Mr. Fats Waller himself--for being "Fat And Greasy." But underneath the all joking, dancing, partying and romancing, heartache still lingers (Black And Blue).
The finale brings us back up and snapping our fingers with a dazzling medley of Fats Waller hits (I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter," "Two Sleepy People," "I've Got My Fingers Crossed," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "It's A Sin To Tell A Lie). The cast "introduces" us to Fats' old band, performing vocal impersonations of the instrumental solos. The group continues to remind us that they "Ain't Misbehavin'," but…"one never knows, do one?"
Ain't Misbehavin opened in the Manhattan Theatre Club's East 73rd Street cabaret on February 8, 1978. The cast included Irene Cara, Nell Carter, André DeShields, Armelia McQueen, and Ken Page and was staged by Maltby. The New York Times reviewer wrote: "The show moves with the zing and sparkle of a Waller recording-filled with bright melodies and asides." Its reception was such that it was decided to develop it into a full-scale production.
The musical opened on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre on May 9, 1978, and transferred to the Plymouth Theatre and then to the Belasco Theatre and closed on February 21, 1982 after 1604 performances and fourteen previews. Maltby was the director, with musical staging and choreography by Arthur Faria. The original cast featured Nell Carter, André DeShields, Armelia McQueen, Ken Page, and Charlayne Woodard. Luther Henderson adapted Waller's music for the revue and served as the production's original pianist. Replacements later in the run included Debbie Allen, Yvette Freeman, Adriane Lenox, and Alan Weeks. An original cast recording was released by RCA Victor.
The West End production opened on March 22, 1979 at Her Majesty's Theatre. DeShields and Woodard were joined by Evan Bell, Annie Joe Edwards, and Jozella Reed. It was revived in London in 1995 at the Tricycle Theatre and then the Lyric Theatre, with Debby Bishop, Dawn Hope, Melanie Marshall, Sean Palmer, and Ray Shell. A London revival cast recording was released by First Night.
On June 12, 1982, NBC broadcast the revue with the original Broadway cast.
A Broadway revival with the same director, choreographer, and cast as the original 1978 production opened on August 15, 1988 at the Ambassador Theatre, where it ran for 176 performances and eight previews. Frank Rich, in his review for The New York Times, wrote "In their scrupulous re-creation of the Fats Waller show that first electrified Broadway a decade ago, the original cast and creators have conjured the same between-the-wars dream world as before... Though almost bereft of dialogue, this musical anthology expands beyond its form to become a resurrection of a great black artist's soul. Perhaps the key to the musical's approach, as conceived by the director Richard Maltby Jr., is its willingness to let Waller speak simply and eloquently for himself, through his art but without show-biz embroidery."
In 1995, a national tour starred the Pointer Sisters, Eugene Barry-Hill, and Michael-Leon Wooley. Although it never reached Broadway as originally planned, a recording of highlights from the show was released by RCA.
Beginning in November 2008 and lasting until at least May 2009, season two American Idol contestants Frenchie Davis, Trenyce Cobbins and winner Ruben Studdard starred in the 30th anniversary national tour of the show. A new cast recording has been made and is available on the Rhino label.
• Ain't Misbehavin'
• Lookin' Good but Feelin' Bad
• 'T Ain't Nobody's Bizness
• Honeysuckle Rose
• Squeeze Me
• Handful of Keys
• I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling
• How Ya Baby
• Jitterbug Waltz
• Ladies Who Sing with the Band
• Yacht Club Swing
• When the Nylons Bloom Again
• Cash for Your Trash
• The Joint is Jumpin'
• Spreadin' Rhythm Around
• Lounging at the Waldorf
• The Viper's Drag
• Mean to Me
• Your Feet's Too Big
• That Ain't Right
• Keepin' Out of Mischief Now
• Find Out What They Like
• Fat and Greasy
• Black and Blue
• I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
• Two Sleepy People
• I've Got my Fingers Crossed
• I Can't Give You Anything but Love
• It's a Sin to Tell a Lie
• Honeysuckle Band
Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Ain't Misbehavin'
Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Ain't Misbehavin'
Ain't Misbehavin' (1978-02-Manhattan Theatre Club-Off Off Broadway)Type de série: Original
Théâtre: Manhattan Theatre Club (Broadway (Off-Off) - Etats-Unis) Durée : 3 semaines Nombre : Première Preview : 08 February 1978
Première: 08 February 1978
Dernière: 05 March 1978Mise en scène : Richard Jr Maltby • Chorégraphie : Arthur Faria • Producteur : Star(s) : Avec: Irene Cara, Nell Carter, Andre De Shields, Armelia McQueen, Ken Page
Ain't Misbehavin' (1979-03-Her Majesty's Theatre-London)Type de série: Original London
Théâtre: Her Majesty's Theatre (Londres - Angleterre) Durée : Nombre : 196 représentationsPremière Preview : Inconnu
Première: 22 March 1979
Dernière: InconnuMise en scène : Richard Jr Maltby • Chorégraphie : Arthur Faria • Producteur : Star(s) : Avec: Evan Bell, André de Shields, Annie Joe Edwards, Jozella Reed, Charlaine WoodardCommentaires : A musical revue and tribute to the black musicians of the 1920s and 1930s who
were part of the Harlem Renaissance, an era of growing creativity, cultural awareness, and ethnic pride. Manhattan nightclubs like the Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom attracted the high society, while the Lennox Avenue low-down dives were filled with piano players banging out the new beat known as swing. Five performers present an evening of rowdy, raunchy, and humorous songs that encapsulate the various moods of the era and vaguely tell the story and philosophy of Fats Waller.
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