23 04 2004

Hey, i have to share, i found this on the website for the university of southern louisiana:

‘Ain’t Misbehavin” acts up

By Adam Plaisance

Staff Writer

The new Fats Waller Musical show, “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” sizzled on the Columbia Theater stage on March 8 with the intent of recapturing the bygone stride and ragtime inspired optimism that arose from the 1930s Harlem district of New York.

The cast members of this award-winning musical, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, energetically transported the audience to the red-light climate of late-night Cabaret Theater with a host of lively dance numbers. The titles included “Lounging at the Walfdorf,” “Mean to Me” and “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.” The dance numbers were under the direction and choreography of Jay Falzone, who is also renown for such productions as “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” and “The Rockin’ ’60s Musical Soap Opera.”

After the intermission, the show shifted gears and straddled the line between PG and R ratings, using tongue and cheek allusions to Harlem’s departure from innocence. The song, “The Vipers Drag” summed this up. There was one point when Aljernon Duval (portraying Tyrone), who hails from Rochester, New York, leaped from the stage with a lit cigarette in hand, running to an audience member, pretending to entice him with ‘the reefer.’ The audience member appeared extremely startled by this dynamic breaking of the fourth wall, but gave no comment.

Returning to the stage, Aljernon commenced to dance with snake-like movements from side to side, filling the air with smoke.

Other members of the cast include Brooklyn Native, Tony Perry; Jacksonville native Meme Simmons; Denver native Shonse Hawkins; University of D.C. graduate Rana Poindexter; and Samantha Lewin, also a native of Rochester.

Having performed in Birmingham, Ala., the night before, the cast members left Hammond to perform another show in Rochester the following night.

“When we first got to Hammond, I noticed how quaint the Deep South really is,” said Perry.

He then went on to add that for a small town, Hammond has a theater that oversteps many big city theaters.

“Ain’t Misbehavin'” is based on an idea by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby. Its spirit revolves around an almost forgotten piano technique called stride, which involves the left hand moving up and down the keyboard to keep rhythm, while the right hand dances in time to keep melody.

Waller, a pianist, had provided more than thirty songs for the production, which debuted on May 9, 1978. Waller had started by playing the organ during Sunday services at the age of ten. He later went on to earn a living throughout the ’20s and ’30s by perfecting the stride technique, playing for rent parties and movie theaters.

When asked if they had spent any recreational time in Hammond, Perry laughed and just said, “As soon as we got here, we went straight to New Orleans!”

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