Interview: Wren T. Brown's Perpetually Behaving with ERT & AIN'T MISBEHAVIN'

Ebony Repertory Theatre will begin their 15th anniversary season with the Tony Award winning Ain’t Misbehavin’ opening May 4

By: Apr. 25, 2023
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Interview: Wren T. Brown's Perpetually Behaving with ERT & AIN'T MISBEHAVIN'

Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT) will begin their 15th anniversary season with the Tony Award winning Ain't Misbehavin' opening May 4, 2023. ERT's producing artistic director Wren T. Brown directs the cast of Yvette Cason, Wilkie Ferguson III, Connie Jackson, Marty Austin Lamar and Natalie Wachen. Wren found some time from his many ERT duties to answer a few of my queries.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Wren!

What made you choose Ain't Misbehavin' as the opener for Ebony Repertory Theatre's 15th anniversary season?

Firstly, I absolutely love the music of Fats Waller. It's filled with whimsy, humor, pathos and everything in between. I've always felt that his music has something for everyone. It takes me on a journey that begins and ends with joy. And as we navigate these very trying times, I wanted to offer our audiences an experience that contains abundant joy.

Interview: Wren T. Brown's Perpetually Behaving with ERT & AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' Besides the 2022 production you directed at the Rubicon Theatre, had you seen other productions of Ain't Misbehavin' before?

Yes. In 2009 at the Ahmanson Theatre.

For those unfamiliar with this Tony Award-winning show, what would your three-line pitch for it be?

Ain't Misbehavin' is a musical tribute to Fats Waller, the international jazz pianist whose passion for pleasure and play helped create and define American swing. The revue features a five-person cast performing hit songs like "Honeysuckle Rose," "Your Feet's Too Big," "Black and Blue," "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Right Myself a Letter," "The Jitterbug Interview: Wren T. Brown's Perpetually Behaving with ERT & AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' Waltz," and the title song, "Ain't Misbehavin'." Celebrating the genius of Thomas "Fats" Waller and his colleagues, this show is a recipe for a joyful experience.

For the audiences of your 2022 Rubicon production who come to this present one, will they see a similar show of Fats Waller hits? Or will this production be radically different?

They will see a similar show with two new actors.

Do you have a favorite Fats Waller song?

I do not.

Interview: Wren T. Brown's Perpetually Behaving with ERT & AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' Is your cast a mix of people you personally called in and eager auditionees?

Yes.

What particular characteristics do you look for in an auditionee?

I want to feel joy and honesty in their work, and most of all, I want them to have a quality of vulnerability that allows access.

What for you is definitely a red flag at auditions?

An objective lack of preparation.

Interview: Wren T. Brown's Perpetually Behaving with ERT & AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' What was the impetus for you and Israel Hicks co-founding ERT in in June 2007?

We both felt that in a city as large as Los Angeles, it desperately needed to have a professional, culturally specific theatre company (African American) as a part of its cultural ecosystem.

ERT held the distinction of being the only African American professional theatre company. Surely in 2023 there must be some other professional African American theatre companies?

ERT holds the distinction of being the only professional African American theatre company in Los Angeles. Yes, there are a few others around the country.

Interview: Wren T. Brown's Perpetually Behaving with ERT & AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' As a fourth generation Los Angeleno, what changes in the Los Angeles theatre community have you had the opportunity to see improve?

I have seen greater diversity of all kinds on many of the stages around town, and the overall standard of the work improve.

Do you have your 15th anniversary season planned out already?

Not completely.

What's in the near future for Wren T. Brown?

Interview: Wren T. Brown's Perpetually Behaving with ERT & AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' The near future holds a lot of hard work toward the continued growth of Ebony Repertory Theatre, and directing assignments at home and out of town.

Thank you again, Wren. I look forward to a wonderful night of Fats Waller.

For tickets to the live performances of Ain't Misbehavin' through May 28, 2023; click on the button below:




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