Friday, October 7, 2011

Crossroads Theatre presenting Fats Waller's Ain't Misbehavin

Welcome to the effervescent, energetic world of Fats Waller, a world of rent parties, hot jazz and the exuberance of the Harlem Renaissance.  The “joint” will definitely be “jumpin’” as Crossroads Theatre Company presents the Tony Award®- winning musical, Ain’t Misbehavin’, directed and choreographed by André De Shields.  The season-opening show will run to October 23. 

A two-time Tony Award nominee, De Shields, whose prolific career spans more than four decades, was a member of the original company of Ain’t Misbehavin’ which initially opened at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s cabaret in February, 1978.  The reception was such that it was developed into a full scale musical which transferred to Broadway, opening in May, 1978 at the Longacre Theatre and instantly made history.  In addition to receiving a Drama Desk Award nomination for creating the role of “André” in the original production, De Shields won an Emmy Award for his role in the NBC Television Special production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ which aired nationally in June, 1982.

 “As an original member of the Broadway miracle,Ain't Misbehavin', I cannot imagine a more splendid way to celebrate the production's 33rd anniversary than by serving as director for this perfect musical as it opens Crossroads’ 2011-2012 season,” said De Shields. “Moreover, what a delicious privilege it is to be able to pass the show's incomparable legacy to a new generation of distinctive performers.”

For De Shields, the show also marks his return to Crossroads, where in 1993 he remounted his cabaret sensation, Haarlem Nocturne, and directed Play On! in 1999..  
The Ain’t Misbehavin’ cast will feature Tyrone Davis Jr. (André), Zurin Villanueava (Charlaine), Rheaume Crenshaw (Nell), Johmaalya Adelekan (Armelia), and Jacob Ming-Trent (Ken).  Backed by a swinging live band, headed by J. Leonard Oxley as musical director and onstage pianist, the five performers will capture the era with such favorite hit songs as “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Black and Blue,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” “The Joint Is Jumpin’,”  “Squeeze Me” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”
The design team includes Burke Wilmore (Lighting/set design), Deborah Caney (Costume Design) and Joshua Reid (Sound Design).

Ain’t Misbehavin’ was my introduction to Broadway as a youth, and I am pleased to present it to Crossroads audiences to kick off our season of music,” said Marshall Jones, executive director of Crossroads. “I know André will put his own personal stamp on it as an original cast member.”

The inimitable Thomas "Fats" Waller rose to international fame during the Golden Age of the Cotton Club, honky tonk dives along Lenox Avenue, rent parties, stride piano players and that jumpin' new beat, Swing.  Ain't Misbehavin' evokes the delightful humor and infectious energy of this American original as a versatile cast struts, strums and sings the songs he made famous in a career that ranged from uptown clubs to downtown Tin Pan Alley to Hollywood and concert stages in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

In a career spanning more than forty years, André De Shields has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director and educator.  He is the recipient of the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award and the 2007 Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance.  He has garnered seven AUDELCO Awards for Outstanding Performance and Direction. Mr. De Shields is best known for his show stopping performances in four   legendary Broadwaymusicals: The Full Monty (Tony Nomination), Play On! (Tony Nomination), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award) and The Wiz (Title Role).

He also is renown for five widely acclaimed collaborations with The Classical Theatre of Harlem: Derek Walcott’sDream on Monkey Mountain, Caligula, King Lear, Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity and Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe.   Film: Extreme Measures with Hugh Grant, Prison with Viggo Mortensen, Robert O’Hara’s Inheritance with Keith David and The American Snitch.  Television: Rescue Me, Life On Mars, Lipstick Jungle, Sex and the City, Cosby,Law & Order, As the World Turns and Another WorldRegional:  David Mamet’s A Life in the Theatre, Inherit the Wind, Death of a Salesman, Our Town, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Ibsen’s Ghosts with Jane Alexander, and most recently as the titular character in Charles Smith’s The Gospel According To James, directed by Chuck Smith.  He is a distinguished alumnus of both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and New York University (Gallatin School).  A triple Capricorn, André is the ninth of eleven children born and reared in Baltimore, Maryland.

Founded in 1978 by Ricardo Khan and L. Kenneth Richardson, Crossroads Theatre Company embraces the vision that African-American theater is intended for a broad-based, diverse audience.  As a major force in the development of new ideas and the introduction of formerly marginalized writers, Crossroads produces works that enrich and diversify the representation of African American culture on the American stage.  Crossroads has produced more than 40 world premieres and received the Tony Award® in 1999 for Outstanding Regional Theatre in the United States.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ based on an idea by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, Jr.
Music by Thomas “Fats” Waller. Directed and Choreographed by André De Shields
Evenings:  8 p.m., October 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, and 22.
Matinees:  3 p.m., October 9, 15, 16, 22, and 23.
School Matinee: 10 a.m., October 19
Opening Night: Saturday October 8 at 8pm.
Tickets: $40 previews, $65 for opening night including a reception; $50 all others. Purchase online at www.CrossroadsTheatreCompany.orgor call 732-545-8100.
Location:CrossroadsTheatre, 7 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, NJ08901

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