"Ain't Misbehavin,'" the joyous Tony Award-winning Fats Waller musical revue that recreates the jazz age during the Harlem Renaissance opens this week at the Wick Theatre in Boca Raton, closing out the theater's inaugural season.
The show, which runs May 8-June 1, features a dynamic cast of five performing the rowdy, raunchy and humorous songs of Thomas W. "Fats" Waller. When the musical revue opened on Broadway in 1978 it garnered four Tony Awards, including "Best Musical," and made a star of Nell Carter.
The show's cast includes Phillip L. Boykin, a 2012 Tony nominee; Alltrinna Grayson, who appeared in the national touring company of "Smokey Joe's Café; Joy Lynn Jacobs, whose Broadway credits include the revival of "The Music Man;" Debra Walton, who has appeared on Broadway and in national tours of "Pajama Game" and "Chicago," and Reggie Whitehead, who has been seen in many national companies and appeared at the Wick recently in "The Full Monty."
I interviewed Ron Hutchins, the show's award-winning director and choreographer whose recent production of "42nd Street" at the Wick garnered critical acclaim. He also took home a Carbonell Award for his recent production of "Spamalot" at the Actor's Playhouse in Coral Gables.
Q: What makes your production of "Ain't Misbehavin'" special?
What's special about this, or any production of "Ain't Misbehavin" is that this show is really a celebration of African-American culture during the Harlem Renaissance. This was when we really put our footprint in the sand.
Q: How did you find your singers for the show?
You need more than singers for 'Aint Misbehavin,'" you need to find five individual actors who can embody the characters and bring the show together. They have to embrace the music. I looked for personalities and I found them.
Q: Fats Waller was not just a composer, he was also a consummate pianist. How did you handle that part of the casting?
We started by looking for a musical director and we found Charles Creath, who is an amazing musician. In the show, he takes care of the band, but he also plays an incredible stride piano on stage.
Q: How do you sum up the essence of this show?
It's all in the music. It's almost like Motown. The songs are naughty, but nice, and filled with double entendres, not like today's music, where they just come out and say it. This is feel good music that you leave the theater singing.
More info: The Wick