Impressed by last years production of Guys and Dolls at the Segal Centre, I happily took the assignment to review this years Ain’t Misbehavin’. What this musical (I have to admit marketing this show as a musical is a tad misleading) lacks in story it makes up for in spades with sass, fabulous sets and most importantly amazing songs.
The show is tribute to the black musicians of the Harlem Renaissance, an extremely influential period of African American culture in the 1920s and 30s. You don’t need to know anything about the Harlem Renaissance to get into the show, which gets swinging right from the start with Fatz Waller’s Ain’t Misbehavin.
While ain’t misbehavin is billed as a Fats Waller musical, the songs actually come from a variety of different musicians. While there were two or three sound glitches that temporarily affected the sound quality during the show there was nothing wrong with the musicians themselves. The main piano player was especially fantastic. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw him headlining next time I went for a drink at Upstairs.
Of the five performers who took to the stage that night, the ladies were definitely the ones that stole the show. It’s hard not to get swept up in the fun of songs like This Joint is Jumping but my personal favourite of the night was the heart wrenching performance of Mean to Me performed by the star and Juno award winner Kim Richardson.
The most impressive aspects of the show is that these five performers sing and dance in period costumes and stage lighting for two straight hours. When you think about just how much coordinating needs to go into getting it right, let alone getting it GREAT, it’s reason enough to see the show. But what makes it a must see is it’s a fun, easy night of big band musical theatre.
Ain’t Misbehavin’ runs until October 20th at the Segal Centre, 5170 ch. de la Côte-Ste-Catherine, tickets are available online or by calling the Segal box office at 514-739-7944