Misbehavin’ in Missouri

by CorinneF on June 8, 2012

in Ain't Misbehavin',Show Spotlight

During the month of June, The Robert G. Reim Theatre in Kirkwood, Missouri will feel less like a theatre, and more like a Harlem jazz club in the 1930′s, when STAGES ST. LOUIS presents the Tony award winning musical revue, Ain’t Misbehavin. The musical anthology of Thomas “Fats” Waller, is a tribute to the musicians of the Harlem Renaissance bringing to life the Golden Age of jazz palaces like the Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom. This funny and swinging musical recreates the world of jazz great Fats Waller through songs like “Honeysuckle Rose,” “The Joint is Jumpin’,” “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” and the title song, “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

The musical revue was originally developed for the Manhattan Theatre Club in the winter of 1978 as a cabaret act. It starred Nell Carter, and a young Irene Cara who would later break out for her vocals on the movie soundtracks of Fame and Flashdance. The show proved to be such a hit, that director and writer, Richard Maltby Jr. expanded it into a full-fledged production and opened it on Broadway later that Spring to critical and audience acclaim. The original Broadway cast included Nell Carter, Andre Deshields, Armelia McQueen, Charlayne Woodward, and St.Louis native, Ken Page. After 1604 performances Ain’t Misbehavin’ closed in 1982 having picked up eight major awards including the 1978 Tony Award for Best Musical. Irene Cara’s future “Fame” co-star, Debbie Allen was one of the notable cast replacements during the four year Broadway run.

St. Louis audiences will be treated to the talents of Dwelvan David, Wendy Lynette Fox, Eric LaJuan Summers, Raena White, and St. Louis native, Willena Vaughn. Vaughn is known for wowing audiences in 2006 for her award-winning performance as Effie White, in the Black Rep’s production of Dreamgirls and has gained quite a following not only in St. Louis but internationally for her profound voice and emotion invoking performances.

Joining the talented cast on stage is a live band of seven talented local musicians led by Adaron “Pops” Jackson. Pops, as he is affectionately known, is one of St. Louis’ most in-demand jazz pianists.  He has toured with the Grammy Award-winning Temptations and artists such as Frank Morgan, Red Holloway, Slide Hampton and Wallace Roney. The band will be present onstage for the entire show, in a brilliantly designed set by James Wolk recreating those great supper clubs of a bygone era. The audience will get a true feeling of traveling back in time to the age of the Cotton Club, honky tonk dives along Lenox Avenue, rent parties, stride piano players and that jumpin’ “new” beat- swing.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ runs through July 1st in the intimate, 384-seat Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Civic Center, 111 South Geyer Road in St. Louis, MO. Single ticket prices range from $15 – $55.

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