To put it simply, Stage Door’s latest musical revue should fill every seat and enjoy an extended run. It’s that exhilaratingly perfect.
As it is, “Ain’t Misbehavin’’’ is one of the classic shows of its kind. You’ll hear favorites such as “Honeysuckle Rose,” “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love,” and the title tune “Ain’t Misbehavin.’” But, this collection of music associated with Fats Waller and the Harlem Renaissance is packed with little-remembered delights, so that with song after song, you’re thinking, “How have I never heard this?” On top of that, these are some of the funniest. Where else can you hear “Fat and Greasy,” “Your Feet’s Too Big,” and “Lounging at the Waldorf?”
Wisely, dialogue and biographical sections are eschewed in this show. There’s simply too much great music and dance available. Curious about Waller’s life? Google it. Want to feel the energy of Harlem’s Cotton Club in the 1920s? Step up to the ticket window.
Fine as the show itself may be — and it’s a gem — this is a very special production, given its firecracker cast. The energy builds until, by the final few minutes, the performers have the audience in their pocket. As exceptional as the first act is, the second is a smash, loaded up with a feast of showstoppers. And the cast keeps whipping the proceedings into a higher gear. To borrow a line from Fats, this joint is jumpin’.
The cast of five includes Fenner Eaddy, Spencer G. Stephens, and Melissa “Lola” Youngblood, all of whom are returning to Stage Door. Joining them are Alyssa Michele and Vallea E. Woodbury, who are making their Stage Door debut. You will swear this group of exceptionally talented performers have been together for years as they shine and shimmy in “Handful of Keys” and “Spreadin’ Rhythm Around.” But, their hauntingly poignant delivery of the tight harmonies of “Black and Blue” is transcendent.
Thankfully, Director Robert Egizio brought this high-energy show back to Stage Door (he first directed it here 15 years ago), casting it with cream-of-the-crop talent, and letting them do what they do best. Chuck Welcome’s art deco set lands you in the middle of a club in the 1920s, while J.D. Williams’ lighting design always sets the right mood.
The Honeysuckle Rose Band is led my Musical Director/Conductor Nick Silvestri on piano. Joining Silvestri are Joseph Jenkins (reeds), David Anthony Kelly, Jr. (bass), Paul Poovey and Jonathan Swygert (trumpets), and Adam Wolfe (drums). Rounding out the technical crew are Rial Ellsworth (sound design), Jim Alford (costume design), Jordan Keyon Smith (choreographer), Kathy Ellsworth (properties design), George Deavours (wig design), and Meghan B. Zern (stage manager).
“Ain’t Misbehavin’” continues through June 16 with performances at 8:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. There are two additional performance on Thursdays, June 6 and 13 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $33 for adults, $30 for seniors, $22 for students and $15 for youth under 12 years.
Stage Door Players is located in the North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody and is on the web at www.stagedoorplayers.net. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 770-396-1727.