Los Angeles Theater Preview: AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ (La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts)

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by Tony Frankel on August 30, 2017

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional


“One never knows, do one?” That’s the favorite catchphrase of Fats Waller (1904-1943), an irrepressible master of music. The 285-pound, cherubic-cheeked jokester genius is the powerhouse presence and driving dreamer behind Ain’t Misbehavin’, the still irresistible 1978 tribute revue from Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby Jr. In this happy case, well, one do knows.

Opening September 15 and playing through October 8, 2017, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts begins its run of this rollicking, euphoric jukebox revue that pays hopping homage to Waller’s stride-piano jazz treasures, such as the teasingly righteous title number and standards that became signature triumphs from the first note (the lyrics to Waller’s tunes are by Harry Brooks and Andy Razaf).

To work, the show needs perfect cast members who can be solo dynamos and a harmony-happy ensemble, so you can trust the choices of director Ken Page (photo below) that amazing rascal-of-a-songbird who starred in the original Broadway production. He chose some amazing players to deliver this hard-hoofing, high-strutting, big-belting two-act delight: Thomas Hobson, Boise Holmes, Amber Liekhus and Natalie Wachen will team up with American Idol and Broadway star Frenchie Davis. The opening title number ushers in these homegrown, go-for-broke, sizzling entertainers, but later songs cover class, love, sex, race, Harlem, downtown, gettin’ high, and surviving World War II.

So, get ready for “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Squeeze Me,” “Yacht Club Swing,” “The Joint is Jumpin’,” “How Ya Baby,” “Spreadin’ Rhythm Around,” “Cash For Your Trash,” the reefer netherworld of “The Viper’s Drag,” the popular novelty number “Your Feet’s Too Big,” and the heartbreakingly simple “Black and Blue” and “Mean to Me.” And so many more. The delirious evening will end with a medley of Waller’s best covers which are as fresh as the day they were recorded in a lucky studio. You couldn’t find yourself at a happier creation. I can’t imagine why anyone would miss this guaranteed smash. But then—one never knows, do one?

photos courtesy of La Mirada Theatre

Ain’t Misbehavin’
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
14900 La Mirada Blvd. in La Mirada
free parking
Wed & Thurs at 7:30; Fri at 8; Sat at 2 & 8; Sun at 2
September 15–October 8, 2017
$15 student tix available for the 1st 15 performances
for tickets, call 562.944.9801 or visit La Mirada Theatre

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