Thursday, September 22, 2011

MUSIC OF THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE OPENS @ CROSSROADS THEATRE

Crossroads Theatre Company

AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’
Based on an idea by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, Jr.
Music by Thomas “Fats” Waller
Directed and Choreographed by André De Shields

WHEN: October 6-23, evenings 8 PM; matinees 3 PM
WHERE:
Crossroads Theatre, 7 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick
TICKETS: $40 previews, $65 for opening night including a reception; $50 all others. Purchase online at www.CrossroadsTheatreCompany.org or HERE
Box office: 732.545.8100

Rousing musical of the toe-tapping favorites of jazzman Fats Waller, directed by original Broadway cast member André DeShields. Experience the glory of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and '30s, when high-society Manhattan nightclubs like the Cotton Club and Savoy Ballroom with piano players banged out the new beat known as swing.

A two-time Tony Award nominee, De Shields, whose prolific career spans more than four decades, was a member of the original company of Ain’t Misbehavin’ which initially opened at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s cabaret in February, 1978.  The reception was such that it was developed into a full scale musical which transferred to Broadway, opening in May, 1978 at the Longacre Theatre and instantly made history.  In addition to receiving a Drama Desk Award nomination for creating the role of “André” in the original production, De Shields won an Emmy Award for his role in the NBC Television Special production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ which aired nationally in June, 1982.

“As an original member of the Broadway miracle, Ain't Misbehavin', I cannot imagine a more splendid way to celebrate the production's 33rd anniversary than by serving as director for this perfect musical as it opens Crossroads’ 2011-2012 season,” said De Shields. “Moreover, what a delicious privilege it is to be able to pass the show's incomparable legacy to a new generation of distinctive performers.”

The Ain’t Misbehavin’ cast will feature Tyrone Davis Jr. (André), Zurin Villanueava (Charlaine), Rheaume Crenshaw (Nell), Johmaalya Adelekan (Armelia), and Jacob Ming-Trent (Ken).  Backed by a swinging live band, headed by J. Leonard Oxley as musical director and onstage pianist, the five performers will capture the era with such favorite hit songs as “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Black and Blue,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” “The Joint Is Jumpin’,”  “Squeeze Me” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”  The design team includes Burke Wilmore (Lighting/set design), Deborah Caney (Costume Design) and Joshua Reid (Sound Design).

The inimitable Thomas "Fats" Waller rose to international fame during the Golden Age of the Cotton Club, honky tonk dives along Lenox Avenue, rent parties, stride piano players and that jumpin' new beat, Swing.  Ain't Misbehavin' evokes the delightful humor and infectious energy of this American original as a versatile cast struts, strums and sings the songs he made famous in a career that ranged from uptown clubs to downtown Tin Pan Alley to Hollywood and concert stages in the U.S., Canada and Europe.