Ain't Misbehavin' - The Fats Waller Musical Show

Review by Willard Manus

First produced on Broadway some thirty years ago, AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' still has some fire in its belly, thanks to the strength of its songs, slick direction and choreography by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Arthur Faria, respectively--and of course the spirited performances of the five-person cast (Eugene Barry-Hill, Doug Eskew, Roz Ryan, Debra Walton and Armelia McQueen, the only leftover from the original cast). The famed pianist, singer and entertainer Waller actually wrote the music and/or lyrics for only seventeen of the thirty songs in the show, though he was associated with several others on the bill, having made them popular hits (such as 'T Ain't Nobody's Biz-ness if I Do and Your Feet's Too Big). No matter. AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' captures the spirit, artistry and joie de vivre of the much-loved Waller, who died tragically young in 1943 at age 39. The show doesn't have a book, just one song after another, delivered on a simple set in smooth, seamless fashion. Despite having to fight against amplification problems, the singers brought Waller's work to life in spirited, even rousing fashion, aided greatly by pianist William Foster McDaniel and his six-piece jazz band. (Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave. Call 213-628-2772 or visit