This would be a perfect 80-minute no intermission musical, if not for the intermission. While the ending of Act I that leads into the intermission is fun and entertaining, I would prefer that they just continued the show and the music. The musical has no plot or characters, but each of the 20 or so songs is a little scene or story unto itself. In solos, pairs, or as a group, the five performers tell the story of each song, some funny, some flirty, some sad. There's even a section in which a couple of performers are introduced and pretend to sing badly, which the others cringe at. There are mini stories of relationships beginning or ending, and some songs that are just downright silly. It's a nice mix, and director Austene Van balances the differing tones of the piece nicely, as one song moves smoothly to the next.
|Cornisha Garmon, Kevin Brown Jr., Angela Steward,|
Len Jones, and Kia Brown (photo courtesy of Stage North)
Austene Van also choreographed the show, with lots of fun jive, jitterbug, and swing, popular early 20th century American dance styles that originated in the Black community. But perhaps her most successful staging is that of the sobering song "Black and Blue," with the five performers seated on stools, letting the lyrics and stunning harmonies shine without distraction from movement. Lighting cues help differentiate scenes and set the tone, on a set that looks like a Harlem jazz club, the cast dressed in jazz age glam (lighting design by Sue Berger, set design by Robin McIntyre, costume design by Joe Burch).
This is your chance to see a rarely done Tony winning musical that celebrates the music of an important 20th century American composer, well performed by this talented cast and band. Ain't Misbehavin' plays Thursdays through Sundays at the Capri Theater through June 4 (click here for info and tickets).