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Ain’t Misbehavin’ : Back to Harlem in the 1930s

Ain’t Misbehavin’ : Back to Harlem in the 1930s

The Segal Centre will be presenting the Tony award-winning musical Ain’t Misbehavin’ – The Fats Waller Musical Show until Oct. 20.

Originally conceived by Richard Maltby Jr. and Murray Horwitz, the play has been renowned ever since opening in Manhattan in 1978. It’s been 27 years since it was last presented in Montreal, brought here in 1986 by the same man directing it this time around, Roger Peace.

Based on the lifework of great jazz pianist Fats Waller, the play brings viewers back to Harlem in the 1930s, pulling from Waller’s musical catalogue to bring the Jazz Age to life on stage.

“I want to present to our audience the joy, wit and the exuberance, together with the occasional touch of raunch, of Fats Waller’s wonderful music,” said Peace in a news release.

Though he’ll still be putting his fingerprints all over the show, the musical’s Aiza Ntibarikure said Peace strongly encourages everyone to bring their own twist to their roles.

“He obviously has an idea of what he wants, but he really encourages us to be creative and lets us perform with a lot of freedom,” she said.

When NDG’s Ntibarikure first heard about the auditions for the play, she rushed to put together two numbers to try out, a ballad and “something more upbeat.”

She didn’t use the ballad – the uptempo number was all it took for everyone to know she was a fit for the gig.

The musical features a few ballads, but uptempo numbers are the driving force behind the show tagged as “sassy, sizzling and irresistibly feel-good.”

“There’s definitely lots of jumping, jiving and interaction with the audience,” she said.

Starring in the show is singer and veteran stage performer Kim Richardson, who was in a 2005 version of the musical in Toronto.

“She has such a beautiful energy about her – it’s impossible not to feel it,” said Ntibarikure, who also worked with Richardson this summer on a French adaptation of Hairspray.

“I feel truly blessed to get to work with her again,” she said.

Rounding out the cast are Toya Alexis, Jonathan Emile, and Michael-Lamont Lytle, all backed by a live five-piece band on stage.

“With the great cast we have, I hope to bring something a little different to some of the musical numbers, while still keeping the fun and energy of the songs,” said Peace.

In co-production with Copa de Oro Productions and sponsored by KPMG, Ain’t Misbehavin’ – The Fats Waller Musical Show runs until October 20 at the Segal Centre, 5170 Côte-Sainte-Catherine Rd.

Jesse Feith
Courtesy photo © Andrée Lanthier

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