If you are looking for a musical with a strong story, Ain’t Misbehavin’ is not the right one for you. The show is an anthology of songs written by or associated with the great Fats Waller. It is also the directorial debut for Tyrone Huntley, and Oti Mabuse’s debut as a musical theatre choreographer.
Fats Waller was not just one of the greatest pianists that jazz has ever known, he was also one of its most exuberant entertainers. He had a long career and an adventurous life. He was even kidnapped by four men in Chicago and taken to Al Capone’s birthday: he thought they were going to kill him but instead he was asked to play at the party.
The musical revue takes us on a journey into the “Harlem Renaissance”, in a Southwark Playhouse perfectly transformed into a Manhattan nightclub by Takis, the Designer of the show.
Landi Oshinowo and Renée Lamb are sensual and their voices are just incredible. Carly Mercedes Dyer has such great comic timing and gives a wonderful vocal performance in "Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now". Adrian Hansel is charming and charismatic (his "Your Feet's Too Big" is so much fun) and Wayne Robinson is pure, natural talent and irresistible in Viper’s Drag.
There are songs performed by the whole cast and songs performed by individual artists. There are foot-tapping, finger-snapping songs and there are powerful ballads (my favourite moments, like in “Squeeze me” or “Black and Blue” where the harmony created by the five voices is just perfect).
Beautiful jazz standards, amazing vocals, and dancing: there is no story, but Ain’t Misbehavin’ will know how to entertain you for two great hours.
It runs until 1 June
Photo: Pamela Raith