Friday, April 24, 2009

review - Ain't Misbehavin'


Ain't Misbehavin'

The Fats Waller Musical Show

conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Murray Horwitz

directed by Richard Maltby, Jr.

Ahmanson Theatre

through May 31

Jumpin', jivin', jammin'. Jubilant, joyful: a jimdandy show. It originated in 1978, winning every conceivable award on Broadway and still holds up, 31 years later, as one of the best musical revues of all time. The reason is simple: Thomas "Fats" Waller's music is timelessly entertaining, and the performers DELIVER!

Two things set Waller apart from other composers of his era. Of course, his signature tunes like "The Joint Is Jumpin'" have that undeniable swing. That's a given, but who can match his one-of-a-kind sense of humor? "Your Feet's Too Big", "Fat and Greasy", "The Ladies Who Sing with the Band", "Cash for Your Trash" have lyrics and rhythms of comedic genius. And, on the opposite side of the fence, what about his uncanny ability to create beautifully stylized melodies with substance? "Black and Blue" is perhaps the quintessential ballad about living black, yet the words and notes are unadorned and dynamically underplayed. A quiet masterpiece!

It is impossible to single out one performer over the other. Doug Eskew, Armelia McQueen, Debra Walton, Roz Ryan and Eugene Barry-Hill are all sensational, whether performing together or individually. And so is the orchestra under the great musical direction of William Foster McDaniel. These are seasoned pros, who love the material and make us love it equally.

These folks COOK. The show is pure ecstasy.

5+ out of 5 stars.


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