“Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” is a two act celebration of the memorable works of composer and musical entertainer Fats Waller, with a few additional contributions from some of Waller’s colleagues of that time. The show has a St. Louis connection. When it first opened on Broadway in 1978, one of the stars was St. Louis native and resident Ken Page. Page won a Drama Desk Award for his work in the show, and “Ain’t Misbehavin’” won the Tony Award as Best Musical of 1978. Page can be seen in two Muny shows this summer, “Aladdin” and “Dreamgirls.”
Normally, all Stage’s productions are performed with the use of a pre-recorded orchestra track instead of a “live” orchestra. In “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” there is an outstanding 7 piece jazz orchestra on stage, along with their conductor Adaron “Pops” Jackson who plays an upright piano during the show and is a physical representation of Waller himself. It’s all a welcome change from the recorded sound.
Stage’s cast of “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” is ideally chosen and very talented. It includes Raena White, Willena Vaughn, Eric Lajuan Summers, Dwelvan David and Wendy Lynette Fox. They are all so good that you find yourself thinking after the show who was best, and finally decide that all were too terrific to single only one out, although “The Viper’s Drag” number by Summers is a flat-out showstopper.
“Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” is done in two acts and features about 23 numbers. Some Waller titles you’ll recognize are the title song, plus “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Black and Blue,” “Mean to Me” and “The Joint Is Jumpin’.” The funniest song in the show is “Fat and Greasy” and it is an audience participation piece that you will thoroughly enjoy.
“Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” at Stages is a dynamic and bright delight that perfectly covers the relatively broad range of Fats Waller’s work. It’s a joyous, very celebratory production. I got a feeling you’ll be falling for “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “at Stages. It plays through July 1.