- “Ain’t Misbehavin” is back, this time with a little different
2003, when the Skylight put on this show in the Cabot Theatre, the cast
consisted of five singers and six instrumentalists. The Stackner Cabaret
production uses only five vocalists, who also provide the accompaniment.
multitalented performers can not only sing, but they also can play the piano,
drums, saxophone, trumpet, bass and violin.
Several of them are very adept at dancing, as well.
Waller (1904-43) died at the young age of 39. During his short life, he managed
to write more than 450 songs, perform in night clubs, concert halls, on the
radio and in movies. He thrived during the Harlem Renaissance and Prohibition
and left a legacy of music performed and enjoyed by millions.
very capable cast provides a highly energized, musically diverse extravaganza
conceived by Richard Maltby and Murray Horwitz. Two segments give us a
fast-paced series of 30 songs with one intermission for us and them to catch our
stage has been extended to provide for more room for dancing and to allow the
upright piano to be moved into various positions to create different aesthetic
constructs. The set design by Tom Gleeson and the costumes by Mary Folino both
enhance the atmosphere of the Jazz Age.
M. Green does wonders on the piano and the trumpet, Britney Coleman plays bass
and the violin, and Christopher James Culberson, besides his fancy and very
graceful footwork (a modern Fred Astaire), plays sax and drums. Coleman is also
a very competent dancer and often joins Culberson in duets.
it comes to vocal expertise, all five singers are very talented, and when they
sing together, especially as evidenced in their moving rendition of “Black and
Blue,” the result is stunning. Green provided a very entertaining version of
“Fat and Greasy” and “Your Feet’s Too Big,” when he gave his keyboard
to Bethany Thomas for a stint while he strutted his comedic stuff.
whom we already witnessed in “Ragtime,” rendered a very moving “Mean to
Me,” Coleman wowed us with her “Squeeze Me,” and Erin Willis with her
belting out an angry “That Ain’t Right.”
of Culberson’s best numbers is “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now.” His face
is so consistently animated that he’s fun to watch at all times.
numbers that are especially memorable and familiar to most of us include
“Honeysuckle Rose,” “I’ve Got a Feeling I’m Falling,” “The Joint
is Jumping,” “Two Sleepy People,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But
Love,” “I’m Gonna Sit Right
Down and Write Myself a Letter” and “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.”
unfamiliar tunes that are particularly enjoyable include, “Lounging at the
Waldorf,” “The Viper’s Drag,” “Ain’t Nobody’s
Biz-Ness If I Do” and “Spreadin’ Rhythm Around.”
of their selections are engrossing, the pacing and choreography by Arthur Faria
breathtaking, and the overall decided impact of the show is largely due to the
excellent direction by Dan Kazemi, who has been a major director of many shows
at The Rep, and who, I suspect, also found these five gems to execute this zesty
show. If you enjoy good music and five talented musicians to deliver it,
“Ain’t Misbehavin’” is the show for you.
Misbehavin’ runs through May 18 at the Stackner Cabaret, 108 E. Wells St.,
Milwaukee. For show times and tickets, call 414-224-9490 or visit www.milwaukeerep.com