Monday, February 13, 2012

Ain't Misbehavin' offers a hand-clapping and soul-searching experience


By Cheryl Thornburg

  I expected “Ain’t Misbehavin’” at the Tri-County Performing Arts Center in Pottstown to be a toe-tappin,’ hand-clappin’ romp and it was all that -- and so much more.
  Director Zuhairah McGill has put together a talented young cast with the chops and comedic skills to recreate the fabulous music and times of Fats Waller. But each cast member has also tapped into the underlying roots and emotions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930s.
  Individually they each shine in particular numbers, but together they create the defining moment of this production in the second act – the poignant and powerful “Black and Blue.” The haunting and mournful lyrics and melody will stay with you as you leave the theater. 
  Each of these actors demonstrates an amazing range of vocal and comedic skills, and each takes his or her turn in the spotlight.
  Marc Sherfield was first to get the audience clapping with his upbeat and cheeky rendition of “Your Feets Too Big.” He delivers many standout performance throughout, but this and the duet “Fat and Greasy” with Isaih Robinson were my favorites.
  Robinson had the audience practically rolling in the aisles with his version of “The Viper’s Drag.” It’s a toss-up – is he a gifted singer with a comedic flair or a gifted comedian who sings?
  But the guys didn’t have all the fun, Alexa Morefield and Mia Mbuy are hysterically funny in the sexy and mischievous, “Find Out What They Like.”
  Mbuy shows off her more serious side and her dynamic range in the unforgettable ballad “Mean To Me.”
  Morefield also shows her softer side in a duet with Sherfield in the now-class “Two Sleepy People.”
  Keeping things lively and with the theme of the show, Denia Gibson shines in Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now” and “I’ve Got My Fingers Crossed.”
  Though these were the key players, there were others on stage who played an equally important part.
  Ben Bullock, a gifted pianist, also shows his acting ability as he channels the buoyant spirit of Waller himself as he sets the tone for each number.
  With the music at the heart of this show, the band is essential to its success.  In addition to Bullock on piano, Lewis Ben on drums, Louis Rieger on bass, Aaron Gould on trombone and Barb Newberry on reeds deliver rousing renditions of these memorable tunes. With the intimate setting of the loft performance space, they capture the cabaret experience.
   “Ain’t Misbehavin’” runs through Feb. 19, but unfortunately most performances have already sold out. Check with the box office in case of cancellations.
  Tri-PAC is located at 245 E. High St., Pottstown. More information is available at  or call 610-970-1199.

  Even if you miss this show, Tri-PAC has much more in store this season.  Coming up in March is “Toys in The Attic,” followed by “Farragut North” in April and “Hairspray” in June.


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