Theater Review: "Ain't Misbehavin'" At The International City Theatre
Throughout the course of the show, the cast of five performed an array of songs composed by Thomas “Fats” Waller, one of the most popular musicians of his time. From the playful opening number, the titular “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” to the foot-tappng “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie” at the close, each piece brought its own unique shade to the palette. However, in an effort to make the revue more relatable for a modern audience, director Saundra McClain added her own touch as well. As a kind of prologue, the play began with Nikita Calame entering the stage out of the storm raging outdoors. Huddled inside a clearly modern raincoat, Nikita is surprised to find four men and women frozen in various positions around her living room, magically lit—thanks to Ben Pilat, the wonderful lighting designer—and dressed in dazzling 20’s get-up, courtesy of costume designer Kim DeShazo. An old radio, despite being unplugged, begins to play the opening number, bringing the cast to life. As the spirit of the Roaring Twenties spreads across the stage and into the audience, Calame is swept up with barely any resistance into the excitement, and she herself bursts into song and dance. The effortlessness with which Nikita is won over is equal to the ease with which the audience slips into total enjoyment of the performance. Yes, there is no plot guiding the audience through and no character arcs to follow, but one cannot help but be caught up in celebration of this period in American history.
If you are looking for a tearful melodrama or a deeply emotional performance to set you on the edge of your seat, perhaps the ICT is not the place for you to spend an evening. If you do, however, end up there, you'll undoubtedly enjoy it—"Ain't Misbehavin'" hardly leaves you any other choice.
Reach staff reporter Sara here.