AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’, devised Richard Maltby, Jr
Derby Playhouse: Tkts 01332 363275
Runs: 2 hrs, one interval, till 8th September 2001
Review: Rod Dungate, 1st September
A classy performance that challenges you to sit still
No story – a whole string of terrific Fats Waller numbers put over by a
talented and classy group of actor-singers. Sophisticated and gutsy, they are
completely at home in Derby but wouldn’t look out of place (as in the second
half) LOUNGING AT THE WALDORF. These performers reach out so much to
you, they are virtually sitting in your laps.
Originally conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr, for the Manhatten Theatre
Club, this is a well structured show: moods and tempos change and surprises
build on each other shaping the performance and giving it a sense of forward
movement. Jenny Sawyer (who directs) is clearly sensitive to this shape and
her choreography enables the performers to relax and present their own
personas to the greatest advantage.
The five company members complement each other perfectly and each has
their solo moments in which to shine, as in Paulette Ivory’s witty YACHT CLUB
SWING. Some great duets, too – FAT AND GREASY (Colin Roy and Christopher
Colquhoun) and the deliciously raunchy FIND OUT WHAT THEY LIKE – the men
that is (Hope Augustus and Nicola Hughes).
The greatest delights come in the ensemble numbers where the sheer
infectious pleasure the singers take in their performances make it impossible
to sit still. Close harmony abounds, a special treat when the three women sing
together. Best of all are the ensemble THE JOINT IS JUMPIN’ which closes the
first half, replete with whistles, gun shots and a police raid, and the group’s
evocation of Fats Waller’s band in AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ which closes the
Outstanding in this strong company is Christopher Colquhoun, he has a
personality that lights up the very darkest corners of the theatre. This is one
serious bad dude, too: witness him singing ‘I dreamed of a reefer five feet long
. . .’ This man can hold an audience to ransom.
All takes place in Steven Richardson’s pink and mauve art deco set which
brings its own surprises.
Director and Choreographer: Jenny Sawyer
Co-Director: Mark Clements
Design: Steven Richardson
Lighting: Tim Mitchell
Musical Director: Barry Robinson
Sound: Nick Greenhill