Porchlight Music Theatre has been bringing us musical for over 18 years , using some of Chicago’s finest young talents, to bring us musical theater in an intimate setting. They are currently presenting “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” The Tony Award-winning Fats Waller Revue, more of a showcase for their talent and a two hour escape from reality that will have you clapping your hands and tapping your feet.
Conceived by Murry Horwitz and Richard Maltby,Jr., this is a musical romp celebrating the music of one Thomas “Fats” Waller and others during what is termed the “Harlem Renaissance” The time is 1944 and we ( the audience) are the guests at an after hours party in a basement in Harlem. The experience is pure delight for all and if you are a “Jazz” enthusiast and love Waller, you will feel as if you have died and gone to jazz heaven!
Five dynamic performers, under the slick direction and choreography of Brenda Didier fill the stage and theater ( Stage 773) with 30 songs for two delightful acts. There is “tap”, as well as “boogie” and this intimate stage becomes a party that I am glad I attended. There is no real story or plot, just solid entertainment and the stories told by the music of the times. Robin Da Silva, Sharriese Hamilton, Donterrio Johnson, Lorenzo Rush, Jr. and Lina Wass are highly energetic and talented- in fact, they are non-stop making us feel like we want to get up and join the party. The onstage musicians, Chris Thigpen,Michael Weatherspoon, Shaun Johnson and Rajiv Halim under Cook’s leadership are amazing. Musical direction is by Jaret Landon.
The highlight of the show is the amazingly talented Austin Cook at the keyboards and conducting the musicians. We have watched this talent emerge as one of the best in Chicago ( possibly the country) at being able to make his piano come alive. He is always moving and makes the music of Waller something special. The “songbook” features numbers like the title song, of course and “Honeysuckle Rose”, “I’ve Got A Feeling I’m Falling”, “The Joint is Jumping”, “The Viper’s Drag”, “That Ain’t Right”, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” and much, much more. Two plus hours of sheer magic on the stage (set by Jeffrey D. Kmiec) with period costumes (Bill Morey) that will knock your sox off
This is Porchlight’s celebration of Black History month and will continue at Stage 773 , located at 1225 West Belmont, in Chicago, through March 9th with performances as follows:
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 p.m.
There is a special Thursday, March 6th matinée at 1 p.m.
Tickets are $43.50 and are General Admission, but the intimate space has great sight lines and there are no bad seats. You can purchase tickets at the box office, by phone at 773-327-5252 or visit www.porchlightmusictheatre.org. Parking in the area is a little tough but valet parking is offered and if you dine at Cooper’s, you can park there for the show.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “.