If patrons felt their seats shaking at the opening of North Coast Repertory Theatre’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’ — the Fats Waller Musical Show,” it was an earthquake of energy caused by the five-member cast that proves a great song never loses its appeal. Director Yvette Freeman scores a hit with the exceptionally talented dancers and she brings to the stage.
As Armelia, Cynthia Thomas is delightfully fun with her sassy moves and inviting smiles in songs such as “Squeeze Me.” Director Freeman, who also plays Charlaine, pours everything and more into her character with jitterbug moves so electric you’ll think she stuck a finger in a light socket. Her rendition of “Yatch Club Swing” is full of stunning footwork and animation. Along with TV shows (“Duets,” “Chasing Destiny”) Freeman has performed at several San Diego venues.
Anise Richie, who has a successful resume with shows such as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Sammy,” “Violet” and more, gives character Nell, a suave attitude. She has a wonderful voice and great dancing skills.
Tony Perry, who has an enormous portfolio of shows and films, and who has traveled North America in a concert of Yiddish and African-American music, slides into the role of Ken like Muhammad Ali taking over the ring. His wide, cheery smile is forefront in his powerful and funny, “Your Feet’s Too Big.”
Native San Diegan Ron Christopher Jones not only has performed in The Old Globe’s “Grinch” and “Bessies Blues,” but other venues, as well. Portraying Andre, his lively and swift dance moves cross the NCRT stage like a tornado and enthuse his renditions of “I’ve Got a Feeling I’m Falling,” “Mean To Me,” and “Cash For Your Trash.”
In song after song and dance after dance, the ensemble excels with help from the in-house musicians Kevin Toney (pianist/conductor), Danny King (drums/percussion), Greg McKinney (bass), Julian Davis (trumpet) and Malcolm Jones (reeds, tenor sax and clarinet) under the guidance of musical director Lanny Hartley.
The choreography by Julia Lema, reflects her talent and experience with shows on Broadway (“Ain’t Misbehavin’ ”, “Guy’s and Dolls,” “Beehive Blues”) and more.
If you enjoy fast-paced dance steps, jazzy songs and clever repartee, you will surely like this musical revue, conceived, and originally created and directed by Richard Maltby, Jr., and Murray Horwitz.
IF YOU GO: “Ain’t Misbehavin’ — the Fats Waller Musical Show” is on stage through Aug. 7 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. Tickets from $46. (858) 481-1055. northcoastrep.org