Ain't Misbehavin', the Tony Award-winning Fats Waller musical revue that wraps up The Wick Theatre's inaugural season, opened to a sell-out audience on Saturday, and the show was everything that a toe-tapping, hand-clapping musical should be.
The Wick opened last fall and ever since then, owner Marilynn Wick hasn't stopped. She's mounted great musical after great musical, giving South Florida audiences what they crave; excellent productions of shows with good stories and hummable tunes, a rarity in a theater world filled soulless road shows and tired retreads.
But a retread 'Aint Misbehavin' never will be, especially under the expert direction of award-winning Ron Hutchins, whose cast of five fiery performers deliver a dazzling musical review of the sassy songs written or associated with Thomas "Fats" Waller, one of America's true music geniuses.
In this new Wick production, Tony Award-nominated actor Phillip Boykin embodies the spirit of Waller, as he shakes his belly, rolls his eyes, and leers in comic fashion, booming out songs with lyrics that are risqué to the hilt. He is a standout, as is Reggie Whitehead, who does justice to the role on Broadway that made Andre de Shields a star, especially when he slithers his "The Viper's Drag."
The woman in the cast are also dynamite. While the late Nell Carter, who originated her role in the original show, can never be replaced, Shirley Tripp made the role her own. She was truly delightful, as were her fellow performers Joy Lynn Jacobs and Debra Walton, all torchy talents in their own right. Rounding out the cast was Charles Creath, performing as the show's musical director and pianist extraordinaire, who hands flew across the piano keys in the syncopated stride rhythm of the day.
Everything about this production sounds the right note, from the impressive set, with it's giant light-up piano key arch to the live musicians who back up Creath. We even hear that the Wick is hoping to install an orchestra pit in the orchestra, a true feat as most theaters do away with theirs!
Now here's how Marilynn Wick goes above and beyond. As if two hours-plus of beautifully rendered Fats Waller music isn't enough, upon exiting the auditorium we entered the lobby to discover it has been transformed into a cabaret. There, on stage, was the wonderful jazz singer Avery Sommers waiting to entertain us. A singer and actress, Sommers has appeared in many shows, including a Broadway stint in none other than 'Aint Misbehavin'! So she was perfect choice to keep the evening going.
Okay, let's recap -- for the price of a $58 ticket, you get both a dazzling Broadway production and a top-notch cabaret show, all in the beautifully appointed venue that is The Wick Theatre. Now that's entertainment!
More Info: The Wick Theatre