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Ain't Misbehavin' - The Pointer Sisters

Ain’t Misbehavin’ – The Pointer Sisters

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Synopsis

Born Thomas Wright Waller in Greenwich Village in 1904, Fats enjoyed a career marked by years of triumphant concert tours, big-time radio, and Hollywood film as one of the originators of swing music. Fats was all music, all five foot ten inches and two hundred and eighty-five pounds of him. Growing up in a deeply religious home, Fats’s father insisted that he study classical piano and play the organ in church. But by the age of six it was apparent that Fats had other ideas. New York at that time was a piano player’s town, and Fats began studying with Harlem stride piano masters, eventually becoming one of its supreme exponents. His natural flair brought him into a recording studio at just eighteen years old, and he was composing a year later in 1923. His musical appetite was gargantuan, and his son Maurice told me that Fats composed or co-composed about three hundred songs and recorded close to four hundred and fifty titles. In 1932, Fats formed the band he called his “Rhythm” with which he achieved his greatest successes: appearances in the films Hooray for Love, King of Burlesque, and Stormy Weather, and his great jazz concert at Carnegie Hall in 1942. Fats died a year later of pneumonia, just outside of Kansas City while traveling back home to New York on the Santa Fe Chief. He was just thirty-nine years old. The Pointer Sisters began studying the Waller material during a concert tour in early summer of 1995. While they were away, we were busy in New York rounding out the cast with the talented co-stars of this production, Michael-Leon Wooley and Eugene Barry-Hill, who was embarking on his fourth production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ for me. Our musical director and pianist William Foster McDaniel had been an integral part of my productions since 1979. We were also able to procure the services of several musicians who played in the 1988 revivaal of Ain’t on Broadway. Two of the original designers were able to re-create their wonderful work for this production; Pat Collins (lighting) and John Lee Beatty (set). They were joined by Bob Mackie who was to re-design the costumes. It was an amazing creative team. Rehearsals began in late July in New York. the Pointers had the double responsibility of absorbing the techniques of Broadway musical theatre as well as understanding the complexities of Ain’t Misbehavin’ with its thirty-five songs, continuous choreography and distinctive physical style. They accepted the ordeal of the grinding eight-hour rehearsal day, six days a week, in three-inch platform shoes, while learning this classic show. They were astonished to discover that much of what they had thought was merely improvised was in actuality set staging and choreography. The ladies attacked this enormous mountain of work with energy, dedication, and above all else, humor. As we moved through the rehearsal process and the Pointer Sisters could actually see that the show would soon belong to them, the excitement began to build. On our last day in New York we did a run-through for friends who were extremely enthusiastic. But what would the critics say? On September 13th, in Green Bay, Wisconsin, we opened to four-star reviews. The Green Bay Gazette critic was dazzled: “The Pointer Sisters’ Ain’t Misbehavin’ [is] a marvelous match of stay, funny, heated, and jazzy.” I love a happy ending! —Arthur Faria

Credits

THE POINTER SISTERS Ruth Pointer Anita Pointer June Pointer Eugene Barry-Hill Michael-Leon Wooley Musical director: William Foster McDaniel Orchestrations and arrangements by Luther Henderson Originally choreographed by Arthur Faria Conceived and originally directed by Richard Maltby, Jr. Originally produced by The Manhattan Theater Club Originally produced on Broadway by Emanuel Azenberg, Dasha Epstein,The Shubert Organization, Jane Gaynor, and Ron Dante Vocal and music concepts by Jeffrey Gutcheon Vocal arrangements by Jeffrey Gutcheon & William Elliott