By Pat Forrest
Whatever may be getting you down (and, yes, the weather’s a good place to start) there’s nothing like some lively music to lift the spirits. With Ain’t Misbehavin’: The Fats Waller Musical Show, Magnus Theatre is kicking off its 43rd season with just that—a “sultry, finger-snapping good time” that will have you tapping your toes. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, Ain’t Misbehavin’ is one of the most popular, well-crafted musical revues of all time, showcasing the music of the Golden Age of the Cotton Club, stride piano players and swing.
Although Waller is absent from the stage, his songs are delivered from the heart by the sassy Amelia (Nicky Lawrence), larger-than-life Ken (Matt Nethersole), the lovely Charlaine (Alana Randall), party animal Andre (Chris Sams), and woman of the world Nell (Michelle E. White). A local ensemble provides the finger-snapping music, with Jim Differ on drums, Glenn Jennings on trumpet, Dan Zadkovich on double bass, and Danny Johnson on piano. Johnson is also musical director for the production.
Many of Waller’s songs are showcased including “Handful of Keys,” “Your Feet’s Too Big,” “The Viper’s Drag” and, of course, “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” One of the showstoppers of the evening is “What Did I Do (To Be So Black and Blue)?”, co-written with Tin Pan Alley lyricist Andy Razaf that was a hit for Louis Armstrong.
Overweight and hard-living, Waller died in December 1943 at the age of 39. With Ain’t Misbehavin’, his memory lives on as a sassy celebration of a legend.
Ain’t Misbehavin’ is on stage at Magnus through October 4. For tickets call 345-5552 or visit magnus.on.ca.