The holiday musical at Performance Network has become a tradition for many - including thousands that flocked to last year's hit "The Drowsy Chaperone." This year the professional theatre brings another Broadway musical extravaganza to Ann Arbor with the 1978 Tony award winning "Ain't Misbehavin'." Conceived by Richard Maltby Jr. & Murray Horwitz, "Ain't Misbehavin'" celebrates the life and music of Thomas "Fats" Waller. The prodigious comic and musical soul of 1930s Harlem lives on in this rollicking, finger-snapping revue that is still considered one of Broadway's best. The inimitable Thomas "Fats" Waller rose to fame during the Golden Age of the Cotton Club, honky tonk dives, rent parties and that jumpin' new beat, Swing. "Ain't Misbehavin'" evokes the infectious humor and energy of this American era.
This 1978 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical begins with a pay-what-you-can performance on November 10 and runs through January 1, 2012. The cast features James Bowen ("Fences"), Diviin Huff ("Little Shop of Horrors"), Kron Moore, Darrian Ford ("State Fair" and "The Who's Tommy" on Broadway) and K Edmonds. It is directed by Tim Rhoze ("Fences," "The Piano Lesson") with musical direction by R. MacKenzie Lewis.
"What whistles, hoots, throws off sparks and moves at about 180 miles an hour, even though it is continually stopped? Ain't Misbehavin'" said The New York Times. "Ain't Misbehavin'" opened on Broadway in May 1978 at the Longacre Theatre, later moving to the Plymouth and then the Belasco before finally completing its 1604-performance run on February 21, 1982. The original cast featured Nell Carter, André DeShields, Armelia McQueen, Ken Page, and Charlayne Woodard. It was nominated for five Tony awards and won for Best Musical, best Featured Actress in a musical and Best Direction of a Musical. It was also nominated for five Drama Desk awards and won for both Outstanding Actor and Actress in a Musical.
Weekly performances are Thursdays at 7:30, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm, with 3pm Saturday matinees on November 26th and December 10th.
On December 31, there will be a special performance to ring in the new year. The 9pm show will be followed by a dessert reception and champagne toast at midnight.
Tickets can be ordered at the Performance Network Box Office at 734-663-0681, online at
www.performancenetwork.org or by coming to the Performance Network Theatre (120 East Huron St., Ann Arbor, 48104) Monday-Saturday 11-6 or one hour before a performance. Tickets are priced at $27 - $46, with discounts available for seniors, members, students and groups. There is a pay-what-you-can performance on November 10th (suggested donation of $15).
Founded in 1981, Performance Network Theatre has grown from a fledgling company to Ann Arbor's only resident, professional theatre. The Network reaches 40,000 theatre patrons and children each year through the year-round Professional Series and The Children's Theatre Network. Performance Network also presents the Fireside Festival of New Works and a series of classes on theatre-related topics. The Network provides uncompromising artistic leadership in the region and produces works that engage, challenge and inspire audiences and artists.
Darrian Ford (Andre), a Chicago native, began his professional theater career at age 13 in Oscar Brown Jr's "Great Nitty Gritty." He danced with The Chicago Joseph Holmes Dance Theater and at 19, moved to NY to dance in the companies of Alvin Ailey then Donald Byrd/The Group. He made his Broadway debut as Charlie in Rodgers & Hammerstein's "State Fair;" about which The New York Times quoted "...and note the expert dancing of the irrepressibly comic Darrian Ford." He also appeared in The Who's "Tommy" (B'way/1st National), "Smokey Joe's Cafe" (1st National), for which he won The Black Theater Alliance Award for Best Actor in a Musical and most recently the 1st National Tour of "The Color Purple." He co-starred opposite Halle Berry in HBO's "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" as Fayard Nicholas of the legendary Nicholas Brothers and had a recurring role on Disney's "That's So Raven" for two seasons. With a dozen appearances as musical guest on both day and night time talk shows, you might even hear him on a few of his Broadway colleagues' albums. As a singer/song writer, he's collaborated with some industry heavy hitters like Allan Rich, Baby Boy, Robbie Buchannon and Bill Esses who co-produced Darrian's own CD, "Everything." As a filmmaker, his film, "Brother's Keeper," has made the rounds in smaller festivals and is being adapted and produced for the stage. In 2008, his original musical, "The Cooke Book/ The Music of Sam Cooke," was produced by North Carolina Theater to rave reviews. He continues to perform "The Cooke Book" around the country.
Kron Moore (Nell) began her performing career in grade school musicals and plays. In her teenage years, she was a member of several R&B/Soul groups before she branched out as an R&B/Pop soloist. She has performed at Disney's Magic Kingdom and has made vocal contributions to several R&B, Hip- Hop and Gospel artist's albums. In 1999 Kron inked a deal with Galeforce Records, and completed her own solo album in 2001. Between 2005 and 2011, Kron has been credited in over twenty stage productions. She has most recently appeared in the 2011 Cars & Stars Celebration as Billie Holiday (Detroit Music Hall), "Ain't Misbehavin'" (Detroit Music Hall Jazz Café), "Triumph and Tragedy of a Soul Singer- The Life of Sam Cooke" as Barbara (Detroit Music Hall) and "Little Shop of Horrors" as Chiffon (Encore Musical Theatre). She's done voiceover work for several radio commercials and has also appeared in numerous television, film and industrial projects, including "Detroit 1-8-7" and the feature film "Sucker." Kron is also the lead vocalist of the Detroit- based band "Merge."
James Bowen (Ken) happily returns to the Performance Network family after 2010's "Fences." Mr. Bowen has received Detroit area critics' awards and citations for his work in "Driving Miss Daisy," "74 Georgia Avenue" (Jewish Ensemble Theatre), "Master Harold...and the Boys" (Planet Ant), "Ain't Misbehavin'," and as Louis Armstrong in Janet Choe's "How High the Moon" (Plowshares Theatre). Other work highlights in Michigan include Belize in "Angels in America Pt. 1: Millenium Approaches," Toledo in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," Polonius in "Hamlet" (Michigan Shakespeare Festival), Russell Parker in "Ceremonies in Dark Old Men," and "John, John the Miller's Son" (Detroit Repertory Theatre), both directed by Tim Rhoze.
Tim Edward Rhoze (director) made his directorial debut at the Detroit Repertory Theatre in 2004 with the production of "Yellowman," followed by directing assignments in consecutive seasons there with "Intimate Apparel," "Ceremonies In Dark Old Men," and the world premiere of "John, John the Miller's Son." During the 2008 Southern Writer's Project at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Tim directed the staged reading of "Nobody," a play with music about the nineteenth century black stage performers Bert Williams and George Walker; he later directed the world premiere at ASF for their 2010 season. For the 2009 season Tim directed the world premiere of "Bear Country," a play about legendary Alabama University head football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, at Alabama Shakespeare Festival and two subsequent remounts. "Ain't Misbehavin'" is Tim's fourth directing assignment at Performance Network; he has also directed "Fences," "K2" and "The Piano Lesson" for PNT. He is the Producing Artistic Director of the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre in Evanston, Illinois where over the past two seasons he has produced & directed "For Colored Girls," "Having Our Say," the musical "Five Guys named Moe" and "From the Mississippi Delta." Tim is the Founding Executive Director of YSTEP/Youth & Senior Theatre Ensemble Project, an intergenerational arts program that brings together students and senior citizens for the purpose of creating an original theatrical play and strengthening the bonds between the two generational groups, and thereby strengthening the community in which they live.
Photo Credit: Sean Carter