[image-1]In honor of Black History Month, Midtown Productions spent the month of February celebrating the Jazz Age with performances of the Tony award-winning Ain’t Misbehavin’. And this weekend is your final chance to check out the performance, with shows Thurs.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 5 p.m.
Fats Waller, who rose to international fame during the Golden Age of Harlem’s Cotton Club, is the center piece of the production. An entirely African-American cast sings and dances along to the hit songs of this jazz legend, capturing a vibrant slice of American history.
Sheri Grace Wenger, the founder of Midtown Productions, was tasked with directing the electrifying performers, though she admits that she didn’t feel qualified. “I felt like I needed to have the soul for it — that the director of this show needed to be born with music in their blood somehow. So, I talked to Manny Houston and he said he would help me,” says Wenger.
Houston performs in Ain’t Misbehavin’ along with serving as the show’s vocal director. Many of the show’s performers hold directional titles, such as Megan Pue, who was originally brought on board as the choreographer and later asked to audition. The creation of the show was a collaborative effort; the infectious storyline and music pulled directors onto the stage and inspired performers to get involved in the directional process.
However, Wenger explains that Midtown Production has yet to see a full house enjoy Ain’t Misbehavin‘. “The blending of these performers is just magic. The thought of the production ending breaks my heart, because not enough people have seen it,” says Wenger.
Wenger says that the cast’s passion translates onto the stage. “Watching the show, there are so many moments when I feel my heart get filled up — there are heartfelt, gorgeous moments that took me by surprise, and this happens to everyone who sees the show.”