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BWW Review: AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' THE FATS WALLER REVUE at Barrington Stage Company

Review: AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' THE FATS WALLER REVUE at Barrington Stage Company

Very much alive, well and delighting Berkshire audiences.

Review: AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' THE FATS WALLER REVUE at Barrington Stage Company
Anastacia McClesky, Jarvis B. Manning, Jr., Maiesha McQueen,
Arnold Harper II and Allison Blackwell
Photo by Daniel Rader

According to dictionary.com, a new production of a play should be referred to as a revival. That's the third listing provided. The first listing is "restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, etc." AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' The Fats Waller Revue opened on Broadway in 1978. The original production won 6 Drama Desk Awards, 3 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and ran for four years. A Broadway revival of the production was mounted in 1988 and closed after 176 performances.

Review: AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' THE FATS WALLER REVUE at Barrington Stage Company
Jarvis B. Manning, Jr.
Photo by Daniel Rader

Some 30+ years later, following two years of delays and a series of unprecedented events, Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield has chosen to mount the production as it's season opener on the Boyd-Quinson Stage. Directed and choregraphed by BSC Associate Artrist, Jeffrey L. Page, Kwinton Gray is Musical Director. The cast of AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' includes Allison Blackwell, Arnold Harper II, Jarvis B. Manning Jr, Anastacia McCleskey, and Maiesha McQueen

To be clear, there is absolutely nothing about this production that is dull, dated, or dusty. The joint is most certainly jumpin' for an evening full of rowdy, raunchy and humorous songs that capture the love longing and zest for life in the 1920's/'30s. Conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Murray Horwitz, AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' is a musical celebration of the irrepressible songwriter-performer Fats Waller, and features such songs as "Honeysuckle Rose, " "This Joint is Jumpin'," and "Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do." Fats Waller's music delights and energizes the audience, and I can't imagine there were any toes that were not tapping during the high spirited and high-quality presentation. AINT MISBEHAVIN' also provides wonderful insight into a vibrant time in American history and music. The cast members are all phenomenally talented and each leaves no doubt as to their ability to sing, dance, and shine. The costumes are splendid and gorgeous. The band seemed quite capable of actually blowing the audience away. If I were pressed to find something less than positive to say about this production, it would likely be that it does get a bit loud at times, but nobody seemed to mind at all. Enthusiastic applause along with clapping, whopping, and hollerin' permeated the presentation throughout and left no doubt that BSC is back to doing what they do best; also, that this season's main stage opener is a big win for all involved.

Review: AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' THE FATS WALLER REVUE at Barrington Stage Company
Anastacia McClesky, Maiesha McQueen
and Allison Blackwell
Photo by Daniel Rader

The creative team includes Raul Abrego (scenic designer), Oana Botez (costume designer), The Wig Associates (wig designers), Tom Ontiveros (lighting designer), Leon Rothenberg (sound designer). Darius Barnes (Associate Director/Choreographer), Darlene Mayakawa (production stage manager).

Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday at 5:00 p.m. (No performance July 4). Boyd-Quinson Stage (30 Union Street). Tickets: $20 - $85.

 



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