The music of Fats Waller lives on through the Broadway hit revival of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” now getting a swinging, sassy showing at Theatre-by-the-Sea.
“Ain’t Misbehavin’” is more a musical revue than a traditional musical, stringing together 29 of Waller’s hits and transitioning them smoothly through two solid acts. If you don’t like one song, (and there were a few I didn’t care for) there will be another to follow shortly.
Opening and closing with the title song, the revival includes familiar tunes such as “Honeysuckle Rose”, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” and “It’s a Sin To Tell a Lie.” Many of the songs reflect the times, with a bit of sass and bawd with a touch of humor. The singing ranges from average to downright terrific.
NaTonia Monet is a good dancer and livens up the stage with dance partner Jeffrey Eugene Johnson but doesn’t come close to matching Tarra Connor Jones and Helen Marla White. Jones is the full-bodied, full-voiced scene stealer who belts out numbers like “Mean To Me” and “Cash For Your Trash” that bring down the house, White adds a classy touch with “Two Sleepy People” and “Squeeze Me.”
Demone, the award-winning singer/actor/director, is the catalyst and comic relief for the revue, hamming it up with the hilarious “Your Feet’s Too Big.”
The five cast members work well together in a number of duets, but it is the serious, soulful “Black and Blue” that will give you goose bumps, as the lights dim, the rocking band takes it down a decibel, and the party gets serious for a moment.
Backing up the very capable TBTS orchestra is the incredible pianist Christopher Davis, who can play Waller’s music with loads of heart and soul. If you like Waller’s music, you should enjoy the show.
At Theatre-by-the-Sea in Matunuck through June 17. Call 782-8587 for reservations or go online at theatrebythesea.com.