By Gail Hayes
Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
Community Theatre of Terre Haute kicks off its new season in swinging style with the Tony Award-winning musical comedy revue, “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” It opens this Friday and continues through the weekend. Additional performances are Oct. 4-6. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees beginning at 2:30 p.m.
“Ain’t Misbehavin’” features the rollicking music of Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller, an influential jazz pianist, composer, singer and comedic entertainer. He is credited with the innovative Harlem stride style that laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano. Two of his compositions, “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Honeysuckle Rose,” both of which are featured in the revue, were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame several years after his 1943 death.
“I love the energy of this show,” said one of the performers, Janice Williams. “We want the audience to be part of this show, rather than just watch the show.” Indeed, the lively singing and dancing will have the audience clapping and tapping their toes in time to the rhythm.
Jeff Lorick, who serves as vice president of the Community Theatre Board of Directors and is a veteran actor himself, is directing the musical revue. In addition to Williams, the cast of six includes Quesley Bunch, Philip Childs, Kandace Hinton, Marcia Lane-McGee and Ollice Nickson. Theatergoers will remember Lane-McGee as Motormouth Maybelle and Childs as Seaweed in last season’s production of “Hairspray.” All the actors bring singing and dancing experience to the stage, which is being enhanced with musical direction by Arnick Shouse, vocal direction by Julia Bruce and choreography by T.J. Moore and Tiffany Heng.
Nickson recently relocated to Terre Haute, and this is his first performance at Community Theatre. “I have loved the process of working with everyone,” he said. “This is the kind of show where you’ll walk away feeling good.”
The set — conceived by Lorick and designed and built by Jeff Jarred — is a giant, curved, lit piano keyboard that extends the full width of the stage.
Costumes, designed by MaryAnn Boyd and Carrie Price Schoffstall, are bedazzled with sequins, making the show a treat for the eyes as well as the ears.
Courtney Dosch is assistant director and stage manager, while Glenda Cordell is the show’s producer.
Based on an idea conceived by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, “Ain’t Misbehavin’” debuted at New York City’s Longacre Theatre in 1978 and ran for 1,600 performances. Nell Carter won a Tony Award for her performance, as did the show itself. It was again revived on Broadway in 1988. Carter also starred in a reprisal of the musical revue on television, the medium where she became famous on the sitcom “Gimme a Break!”
In addition to the two songs in the Grammy Hall of Fame mentioned above, the revue also includes “The Joint is Jumpin’,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Squeeze Me” and many others. The audience will be treated to the Charleston, tap, jazz and other dances popular during the 1920s and ’30s Harlem Renaissance.
The ticket office is open this week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as one hour before showtime. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students.
Community Theatre of Terre Haute is at 25th and Washington streets. Learn more at www.ctth.org or call the ticket office at 812-232-7172.
• Community Theatre of Terre Haute will stage auditions at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday for “Babes in Toyland,” a holiday musical based on the operetta by Victor Herbert and Glen MacDonough, adapted by Ruth Perry and Ann Smit. Josh Hoffman will direct the Community Theatre rendition of the holiday classic.
• Roles are available for five men, five women, six boys, six girls as well as ensemble and dancers. Those auditioning should come prepared with a vocal selection and will also be given a simple dance routine to perform.
• There will be seven performances of the musical: Dec. 6-8 and 12-15. Contact the director at email@example.com with questions and learn more at www.ctth.org.