One of the most challenging tasks in the musical theatre community is bringing a musical back to life. It requires extraordinary work and guts to replicate a piece of art that has won the highest accolades. The 1978 musical revue “Ain’t Misbehavin’” is one of those musicals that have been revived. These revivals have ensured that the spark existing in the first production has been rekindled for the modern audience. Because they are successful, people are fortunate to experience the fire from the show as if they are watching the original. If you are looking for a fun theater experience in Houston, Texas, do not miss the chance to see this Ain’t Misbehavin’ from September 20 – October 2.
“To be clear, there is absolutely nothing about this production that is dull, dated, or dusty. The joint is most certainly jumpin’ for an evening full of rowdy, raunchy, and humorous songs that capture the love longing and zest for life in the 1920’s/’30s.” – Marc Savitt, broadwayworld.com
“Yes, some will suspect that the accolades this production garners will sound like over-the-top praise. But the fact is that this production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ is one of those one-of-a kind experiences that we all long for in the theater. It’s when the tech, the direction, the cast, and artistic staff mesh and then soar.” – David Greenham, The Arts Fuse
‘”Ain’t Misbehavin'” is great fun and highlighting vibrant Black stories like this one is Front Porch’s ethos.’ – Jacquinn Sinclair, wbur
Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a tribute show for Fats Waller. He was a famous musician during the 1920s and 30s for his novel compositions. He is also the first African-American songwriter on Broadway. His well-known tunes, such as “Squeeze Me,” “Handful of Keys,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” and “Honeysuckle Rose,” among many others, are all showcased in the show. The revue consists of five singers who perform an evening of boisterous, bawdy, and funny songs reflecting Waller’s philosophy of life as an entertainment journey.
In 1978, the show premiered at the Manhattan Theatre Club with Irene Cara, Nell Carter, André DeShields, Armelia McQueen, and Ken Page. Before it became a musical revue, it started as a cabaret. Thanks to the positive reception from viewers and critics, it was developed to become an entire show. The New York Times even praised its entertaining take on Waller’s works: “The show moves with the zing and sparkle of a Waller recording-filled with bright melodies and asides.” The show opened on Broadway that same year and stayed there until 1982.
The original production won multiple Tony awards, including “Best Musical,” “Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical” for Nell Carter’s performance, and “Best Direction of a Musical” for Richard Maltby, Jr. The subsequent revivals earned nominations from multiple award-giving bodies, such as the Laurence Olivier Award for “Musical of the Year.”
Its first revival occurred on 1988, which had the same director and choreographers and the same cast as the original. The Ambassador Theatre hosted the production, which ran for 176 performances and eight previews. Considerably, it was a huge success. Many critics found it refreshing and as entertaining as the first time. As Frank Rich of The New York Times put it, “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, another revival from the direction and choreography of Faria embarked on a national tour. The Pointer Sisters (an R&B singing group popular during the 70s) starred in this production. This was followed by a 2008 run for the revue’s 30th anniversary with American Idol alum Frenchie Davis, Trenyce Cobbins, and season 2 winner Ruben Studdard.
Monique Midgette, who also performed in a production of the show, directs the Theater Under the Stars production of the acclaimed theater production. Ain’t Misbehavin’ will be performed at the Sarofim Hall in Houston, Texas, from September 20 until October 2.
“You wouldn’t think a show that trades in virtuosic swing could drop so deep and keep its balance, but then an ambivalence about appropriation is clearly part of Waller’s blueprint.” – Jesse Green, New York Times
“… the winning warmth, charm and energy of the cast proves irresistible.” – Lyndsey Winship, The Guardian
If you are looking for a fun theatre production that gives you a glimpse of the interesting times of the Harlem Renaissance, this is the show for you. Grab your tickets now, watch this show with your loved ones, and enjoy an evening of musical humor and breathtaking performances. Click the “Get Tickets” link to reserve your tickets as early as today.