With a performance attended by Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sly James, Spinning Tree Theatre opened their third season with, Ain’t Misbehaven’. The highly entertaining musical revue opened on Saturday Nov. 2 at the Just Off Broadway Theatre. The Fats Waller Musical Show is a tribute to the jazz pianist, composer and comedic entertainer, who is most remembered for such songs as Stormy Weather.
Conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Murray Horwitz, Michael Grayman and Andy Parkhurst are directing and choreographing the Spinning Tree production. Accompanying the performers are Julian Goff on percussion, Brian Wilson on bass and conducted by Angie Benson on piano. Benson displayed her amazing talent on the ivory keys at the beginning of the second act, when accompanied by the band they played Entr’acte. Many more numbers like that and she could have stolen the show.
The performance was a little hard to hear and understand as the band at times drowned out Ron Lackey, who has a marvelous voice. Lackey was not the only performer affected by the theater and band, as the three-piece orchestra obscured Linnaia McKenzie. McKenzie, who could hide in the shadow of Lackey, demonstrated a powerful voice that whether the fault of the band, theater or pace of the song was at times impossible to understand.
The five performers demonstrated superb comedic timing, as most of the songs were light-hearted with a fast beat. With outstanding choreography, which enhanced the performances of the cast, the show moved fast and left the audience wanting more.
Jennie Greenberry returned to Spinning Tree where she had performed in Shipwrecked. Greenberry not only has a phenomenal voice, she also has ideal timing that she perfectly demonstrated as she sings, When the Nylons Bloom Again. Greenberry was one of the three performers not affected by the acoustics or volume of the band.
Eboni Fondren has a spectacular voice that boomed with little trouble throughout the theater, as was demonstrated when she sang, Cash for Your Trash. Her interactions with the other cast members and the band led to a heightened pleasure for the audience.
The flamboyant Matthew King rounded out the remarkably talented cast. King sings and dances around the set with exuberance that fills every member of the audience and cast. He is a delight to watch as he sings ‘T Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness and The Viper’s Drag.
Even with the minor flaws caused by the theater, Ain’t Misbehaven’ makes for a fantastic evening of entertainment and song. The musical revue continues at the Just Off Broadway Theatre through Nov. 17.