The beat please, maestro, and make it fast and sassy. After all, we're looking good and want to shake our chassis.
By turns sweet and sinful, jumping and jiving, the Southeast Community Theatre's production of "Ain't Misbehavin' " will tease and tickle anybody who's "Black and Blue" and other people, too. From the teasing "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling" to the enervated hilarity of "Jitterbug Waltz" to the raucous good-time sounds of "Your Feet's Too Big," this tribute to the music of Fats Waller moves with an excitement and contagious electricity often hard to resist.
Built around the irrepressible stage personalities of Rufus Bonds and Charlotte Seward, UC San Diego professor Floyd Gaffney's staging almost always connects with Waller's musically emotional impulses. The exceptions are mainly when performers Robyn Phillips and Regina Anderson--two fine singers--hold back on the acting. Phillips doesn't always put across the jukey, air-headed flapper she's called on to play. Also, in songs like "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now" and "Squeeze Me," neither pumps in enough soul. We don't believe they're really in love.
Such moments are exceptions in a show where Bonds and Seward mostly sizzle. Bonds' effusive personality and Seward's passion-packed big mama romp throughout, from a sly, comic eroticism in "Honeysuckle Rose" to a sleekly soignee "Lounging at the Waldorf," in which the entire company glides about in ultra-sophisticated poses.
Tom Bollard's refined art deco set passes for a Harlem night club in the 1920s or '30s. But Mark Riddlesperger's lighting, and, especially, its execution are undistinguished. Charles Odum and Daryl Williams alternate in the other male role. Saturday night Williams did a creditable job which, in this case, is anything more than becoming a straight man to Bonds.
Although the band, led by Marvin V. Curtis, rarely cooks, it does swing. Everyone in the cast sings well and dances well enough. Unless "Your Feet's Too Big," get some "Cash for Your Trash" and get down to the Educational Cultural Complex where "Ain't Misbehavin"' plays through April 7.
"AIN'T MISBEHAVIN,' " the musical revue based on the songs of Fats Waller, conceived by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby Jr. At the Educational Cultural Complex, 4343 Ocean View Blvd. Directed by Floyd Gaffney. Choreographed by Kenneth Green. Musical director, Marvin V. Curtis. Stage manager, Matthew Ballesteros. Set by Tom Bollard. Lighting by Mark Riddlesperger. Costumes by Pmela Stompoly. With Charlotte Seward, Regina Anderson, Robyn Phillips, Rufus Bonds, Charles Odum and Daryl Williams. Performances continue at 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 7 p.m. Sundays through April 7.