You’ll have a toe-tapping time at “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ”
By Deirdre Parker Smith
The joint was really jumping on the opening night of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” Piedmont Players’ summer musical.
Featuring the toe-tapping, hand clapping music of the great Fats Waller, the show is all songs. No plot to worry about. All you have to do is sit back and snap your fingers.
The cast expended an incredible amount of energy in their performances, singing, dancing, vamping, preening. The three ladies and two men looked fine and moved like they’d been doing this act for years.
An inventive set, an arch of piano keys that was mirrored on the painted floor, framed the band and the singers with a classy black-and-white motif. Reid Leonard directed the show and designed the set.
And what about that band? The saxophones, the clarinet, trumpet, trombone and acoustic base sounded great together. The conductor/piano man hit all the right notes, from the honky tonks to the sweet and low.
The women, Tameka Brown, Brittany Currie and the incomparable Alexis Greer, light up the stage with their voices and their presence. Greer looks like she’s having the most fun of all, and has she got the moves.
Brown has great bits as a squeaky singer in “Yacht Club Swing” but there’s a lot more voice in there, and she shows it off throughout.
Currie is trained as a classical singer, and you can hear that, too, as she hits a wide range, from glass breaking to a near tenor.
The ladies look so good in their party dresses and then their shimmering sequins and beads. They are sweet and sassy and fussy and serious and entertaining.
The men are Wynn Durrah and Tyler Smith, who is making a name for himself on the Piedmont stage. While Durrah is a big man full of rich soul, Smith is the angular lady’s man.
They have a great number where the audience gets to sing along, “Fat and Greasy.” Smith also gets the crowd going in “The Viper’s Drug.” You need to go to see what it is.
Waller died young, but he left an incredible amount of music that still sounds fantastic today.
Among the tunes that will be familiar are “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” “The Joint is Jumpin’,” “Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” “Give You Anything but Love.”
And there are songs that speak of pain and loss, “Mean to Me” and “Black and Blue.”
Tod A. Kubo again handled the choreography and it works well. These people are singers, for the most part, but they sure can dance and the audience loved their fancy moves.
Adrian J. Smith is the conductor and piano player, with a band whose members change during the run of the show. They put out a lot of music, and it’s sometimes hard to understand what the singers are saying. There also seemed to be a little distortion on some of the microphones at times, something that will probably smooth out through the performances.
The evening goes by in a flash, even with a 20-minute intermission, and the show is over by 9:30. Those 20 minutes might be a welcome relief to the singers, with lots more music to come.
Children will have a good time with the music and dancing, so you can bring them along.
“Ain’t Misbehavin'” is underwritten by Robert E. Aiken and continues July 29-Aug. 1 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee today at 2:30 p.m., all at the Meroney Theater in downtown Salisbury. For tickets, call 704-633-5471 or go to www.piedmontplayers.com.