By Jordan A. Porter-Woodruff | JAPWoodruff@gmail.com
In an exciting, risky and down right demand for attention, Porchlight Music Theatre’s, “Aint Misbehavin'” brings to us the Harlem Renaissance with an edge.
With inspiration drawing from and in honor of the book written by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby Jr., combined with the powerful music and vibe of Thomas “Fats” Waller, director and choreographer Brenda Didier transports us to 1940’S Harlem and does not let us out until the very end. The musical direction by Jaret Landon keeps the audience with high energy feeding off of the lively and joyful cast.
Without skipping a beat, the band, conducted by Austin Cook who is also the upbeat pianist, is able to switch the mood gracefully as we go through a slew of emotions with Fats Waller’s eye-opening and revealing music. With numbers like, “I’ve Got A Feeling I’m Falling” “Cash For Your Trash”, “Find Out What They Like” and “Black and Blue” we find ourselves learning about love, dignity, relationships and overall respect as we are reminded how Fats Waller’s music was able to bring black and white people together.
The all black cast works exceptionally well together bringing their own flavor to the stage. Lorenzo Rush, Jr., who strikingly resembles Fats, brings high energy and playful mannerisms; Robin Silva’s delivered wisdom; Lina Wass’s beautiful voice; Sharriese Hamilton’s teasing and sass and finally Donterrio Johnson who brings the naughty and the daring “Viper”, create a unit that makes you want to jump out of your seat.
Although the energy is graceful and most certainly captivating, we also receive a huge amount of a need to be understood. All songs have very risky lyrics with catalyst undertones that scream, “We are all the same”. Even though at times “Ain’t Misbehavin'” can seem a tad bit over the top, the purity of the characters is finally thrown at the audience once the beautiful duet of “Black and Blue” is served with a huge bang, radiating the words, “I’m white inside/But that don’t help my case/’Cause I can’t hide/What is on my face”. It is easy to see that Fats Waller’s mind and soul was after something greater than a night of dancing.
“Aint Misbehavin'” takes us to a place where respect and appreciation is allowed to flourish.
[box_light]Porchlight Music Theatre|1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL. 60657
Showing: Stage 773| Run Dates: Through March 9| Running Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Tickets: $43.50 | porchlightmusictheatre.org or 773-327-5252 [/box_light]