Hillbarn Theatre & Conservatory is staging a lively,
high-energy production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” subtitled “The Fats Waller
In this revue conceived by Richard Maltby Jr. and
Murray Horwitz, three women and two men sing some of Waller’s best known songs of
the ’30 and ’40s. They include both songs he wrote and songs he performed and
The action takes place in an after-hours Harlem gin
joint with the six-member band on a
small platform. Six round tables with two seats are arrayed around the
Audience members are invited to sit at two of them
while the others are used by the cast. At the first matinee, two youngsters sat
at one table and seemed entirely taken by the show.
The show opens with the company performing the title
song plus “Lookin’ Good but Feelin’ Bad.”
Thereafter each performer is featured. Anthone
Jackson as Ken, joined by Katrina Lauren McGraw as Nell, sings a suggestive
“Honeysuckle Rose.” Phaedra Tillery-Boughton as Armelia sings another
suggestive song, “Squeeze Me.”
Dave J. Abrams as André is a terrific dancer,
especially in “How Ya Baby” with Majesty Scott as Charlaine.
The likable performers, under the musical direction
of Jasmine Butler, sing and blend well.
Some of the best known songs in Act 2 are “Mean to
Me,” “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” “I Can’t Give You
Anything but Love,” and “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.”
(Full disclosure: I wasn’t able to stay for Act 2
because of an unexpected schedule conflict.)
“Ain’t Misbehavin’” was a Broadway hit, winning the
Tony and New York Drama Critics Circle awards as best musical of 1978, along
with a 1979 Grammy for original cast album. It first came to San Francisco in
1979 and has been seen there and at several Bay Area venues ever since.
Small wonder that it’s so popular. It’s filled with
timeless music that can be enjoyed by all ages.
The entertaining Hillbarn production is directed by
Kevin Smith-Kirkwood, who also serves as choreographer. The set is by Matt
Owens with costumes by Jasmine Williams, lighting by Pamila Gray and sound by
Running just under two hours with one intermission,
“Ain’t Misbehavin’” will continue through March 27 at Hillbarn Theatre, 1285 E.
Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City.
For tickets and information, call 650-349-6411, Ext.
2, or visit www.hillbarntheatre.org.