Monday, May 04, 2009

Happy Star Wars Day

Saturday night I went to the Ahmanson Theater in downtown Los Angeles to see "Ain't Misbehavin'" -- a revue of songs by Thomas "Fats" Waller, an African-American jazz pianist, organist, composer and comedic entertainer who wrote around 500 songs mostly between the two World Wars.

Waller died in 1943 at the age of 39, on an eastbound train after coming to Los Angeles to appear in the film "Stormy Weather" with Lena Horne.

This production commemorates the thirtieth anniversary of "Ain't Misbehavin's" debut on Broadway (with Nell Carter) and features an original cast member -- Armelia McQueen.

The performers are very talented but I have to admit to feeling ripped off by this show. Five singers and a piano player (backed by a six-piece band) do not a night at the theater make.

There's no book to this musical, it's simply a compilation of Waller's songs ranging from "Honeysuckle Rose" to "The Joint is Jumpin'."

The Center Theater Group, which runs the Ahmanson and two other theaters, clearly is hurting for cash -- in fact they've canceled two show already announced as part of their seasons at the other two theaters. This show, with its tiny cast, single set and simple costumes must be cheap to produce. But if I'm paying top dollar for theater tickets I expect something more.
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