This is what happens when I let myself get super behind on posts. I thought I posted this on Sunday. Now I feel awful because I missed informing people about this show for two performances. Boo me. And my apologies.
“Ain’t Misbehavin'” ain’t exactly your standard musical fare.
Produced by Theatre Tuscaloosa, and directed by Tina F. Turley, “Ain’t Misbehavin'” is set up during what seems to be the Harlem Renaissance. Set up like a big band show, it’s less of a musical and more of what’s advertized (finally, truth in advertizement), a “musical show.” Specifically, it’s the “Fats Waller musical show,” Waller being a jazz musician in the early 1900s. The show is a musical revue that, unlike a jukebox musical, doesn’t try to tell a story. Instead, it’s simply two acts of swingin’ song and dance.
That’s not to say there’s no acting involved. This isn’t your “American Idol,” stand at the microphone and sing affair (though it happens a few times, often for comedic effect). The actors in the show, Erika Evans, Alyssa Grubbs, Myiesha J. Duff, Will Travis and Willie Williams, play no characters, instead coming out to sing and dance to Waller tunes. In those tunes, however, they often take on certain characteristics, acting out the lyrics, which often leads to the women being competitive divas and the men being your stereotypical tail chasers.
The set, designed by Jameson Sanford, is simple and effective, capable of glamor and setting the mood while leaving enough room for the actors to dance the intense and what looks to be sometimes quite difficult choreography by Nick Rashad Burroughs. All the actors make it look simple, though, floating through their songs with power, grace and ease.
Again, there’s no plot to describe, no characters to really judge… it’s simply a couple of hours of good, fun song and dance. From fast-stepping jazz to slower, somber emotional harmonies. If you like music and dance, I’d say it’s worth your while.
The show runs Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Bean-Brown Theatre at Shelton State Community College. Go watch it and let yourself fall back into a time and place too many have forgotten through some very nice musical numbers.