Saturday, February 6, 2010
"Ain't Misbehavin'" at the Cleveland Play House
Watching the Cleveland Play house's adaptation of the Fats Waller musical "Ain't Misbehavin'" last Wednesday at the Bolton Theater was like watching this year's version of the Cleveland Cavaliers, too much talent on the floor. From the five leads in the company to the players in the band to the songs in the musical review, this production of this enjoyable musical was nothing but top shelf.
Featuring over thirty numbers mostly from the black jazz era of 20's, 30's, and 40's, not to be confused with the Bing Crosby lead white jazz of the same time period, the play was filled with great dancing, outstanding vocals, and very good costumes and staging. As the company and the band went through not only Waller's greatest hits but those by composers such as George Marion, Jr., Andy Razaf, and others, the audience loved every moment of it, and broke into spontaneous applause often.
The five members of the company that did all the singing and dancing, with more than a healthy dose of humor, are all young regional theater veterans from around the country. Rebecca E. Covington, Angela Grovey, Christopher L. Morgan, Ken Robinson, and Aurelia Williams each showed great skill and talent. Musical Director and pianist Darryl G. Ivey lead a solid band of local musicians that featured trombonist Chris Anderson and drummer Thomas A. Fries.
"Ain't Misbehavin'" is running at the Bolton Theater until February 21, and I highly recommend it. This is the third year in a row the Play House has hit a home run with a musical biography, two years ago it was Ella Fitzgerald and last year it was Mahalia Jackson. This version of "Ain't Misbehavin'" might be the best of the bunch.
The Play House has two productions left in their season. An adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma is running from February 26 to March 21, and Bill W. and Dr. Bob, a drama about the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous set in Akron, from April 9 until May 2. Also upcoming is their FusionFest 2010, their annual multi-arts festival. Visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com for more information on any of these events.