BWW Review: AINT MISBEHAVIN Presented by NJPAC and Crossroads on the Road-A Dazzling Musical Review
This past weekend, theatergoers had the exciting opportunity to attend Ain't Misbehavin' The Fats Waller Musical at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). The dazzling show was performed in NJPAC's Victoria Theater from Thursday, February 1st through Sunday February 4th with sold-out performances. It was a wonderful collaboration between NJPAC and Crossroads Theatre Company. This season, "Crossroads On the Road" is presenting their shows across the Garden State while their new theatre is being built in New Brunswick.
Ain't Misbehavin' featured superb direction and choreography by Andre De Shields, the renowned actor, director, and educator. De Shields also directed the Fats Waller award-winning musical when it premiered during Crossroads Theatre Company's 2011-2012 season. The performances at NJPAC starred an excellent five-person cast accompanied by a top group of musicians. Together, they brought the music and mood of the Harlem Renaissance to life on the Newark stage.
Ain't Misbehavin' The Fats Waller Musical is a song and dance review that was originally conceived by Richard Maltby Jr., and Murray Horwitz. The highly acclaimed show first opened on Broadway in 1978 and had a very successful run. As a tribute to black musicians of the 1920's and 1930's, it embodies the true spirit of the era's ethnic pride.
The Crossroads on the Road troupe captured the style and spirit of the show. The multi-talented cast included Johmaalya Adelekan (Ragtime), Rheaume Crenshaw (Groundhog Day), David Samuel (Ruined, Arena Stage), Zurin Villanueva (Mean Girls; Shuffle Along), and Borris York (Holiday Inn; Love Never Dies, U.S. tour). David Alan Bunn was the Pianist/Conductor/Arranger for the show. The remarkable band included Kenneth Crutchfield, Drums; George Grier, Bass; Irwin Hall, Clarinet/Tenor Sax; Robert Stringer, Trombone; and Donald Malloy, Trumpet.
The audiences at NJPAC were tapping their toes and enjoying every moment of the production that transported them to Manhattan nightclubs of yesteryear like the Cotton Club and Savoy Ballroom. The show opened with a thrilling rendition of the 1929 Fats Waller song that the show was named for,"Ain't Misbehavin". Some of our very favorites in the first act included "Honeysuckle Rose," Jitterbug Waltz," "Cash for Your Trash," and "The Joint is Jumpin'." The second act had charming and comical numbers like "Your Feets Too Big," "Fat and Greasy," along with moving selections that included "Black and Blue." The show also had vibrant dance numbers like "Jitterbug Waltz" and "The Viper's Drag."
The Creative Team did a great job of bringing Ain't Misbehavin' to NJPAC. They included costume design by Deborah Caney; sound design by Joshua Reid; scenic and lighting design by Burke Wilmor; associate scenic design by Elizabeth Nelson. The Assistant Choreographer was Camille Moten; casting was by Pat McCorkle, CSA; Production Stage Manager was Brian Westmoreland.
We congratulate Director, Andre Shields, Producing Artistic Director for Crossroads Theatre Company, Marshall Jones III, and NJPAC on a successful production of Ain't Misbehavin, a truly timeless classic
"Crossroads on the Road" will conclude their successful season with a May 2018 production of Back to the Real by Pia Wilson to be performed on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. For more information, visit: http://www.crossroadstheatrecompany.org/news/crossroads-on-the-road.
For more information about NJPAC in the heart of Newark's Arts District, visit: http://www.njpac.org/.
Photo Credit: Yasmeen Fahmy