The resident production arrives 30 years after the revue was a Tony Award-winning Broadway hit.
Director Chuck Smith's cast includes five of Chicago's foremost musical theatre names — E. Faye Butler (Purlie), John Steven Crowley (Crowns), Alexis Rogers (Black Nativity), Parrish Collier and Lina Kernan.
Set designer Linda Buchanan transforms the 856-seat Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre into a grandiose period concert hall, featuring an eight-piece band led by music director Malcolm Ruhl.
Opening is June 30. The show's musical numbers include "Your Feet's Too Big," "Honeysuckle Rose" and "The Joint is Jumpin'," among many others that Waller composed, recorded or collaborated on.
A separate, commercial national tour of the show is booked around the country in 2008-09. "American Idol" veterans Frenchie Davis and Ruben Studdard star. "Ain't Misbehavin' revives the musical genius of Fats Waller — joyous music not heard everyday or found on many iPods — for a glorious night in the theatre," Goodman Theatre's resident director Smith stated. "Though this is a period piece, our production trades the traditional nightclub setting for a concert venue, complete with eye-popping visuals — a perfect backdrop for these larger-than-life musical numbers. It's a toe-tappin', finger-snappin', hand-clappin' good time!"
According to Goodman, "Born in Harlem in 1904, Thomas 'Fats' Waller remains one of the most influential stride piano players, having written more than 450 songs and recorded over 500 sides during his career. He wrote his first composition at age 14, and became a professional pianist the very next year — playing with legendary artists such as Fletcher Henderson and Jack Teagarden, Alberta Hunter and Bessie Smith. He became famous performing a combination of his own music and music written by others. After Waller’s death in 1943, his influence waned and his legacy faded into the historical background for over three decades. In 1978, theatre artists Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, Jr., generated renewed attention and interest in Waller with their creation Ain't Misbehavin', through which they paid tribute to Waller's contributions to American music and highlighted the best aspects of the Harlem nightclub revues of the 1920s and '30s."
Ain't Misbehavin' opened first as a cabaret act, quickly followed by a Broadway run of over 1,600 performances and numerous awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical.
The musicians are Peter Benson (piano), Larry Bowen (trumpet), Y.L. Douglas (drums) Anderson Edwards (bass), T.S. Galoway (trombone), Jarrard Harris (tenor sax/clarinet), Stephen Leinheiser (alto sax/clarinet) and Malcolm Ruhl (guitar and conductor).
The design team and additional artists for Ain't Misbehavin' include Birgit Rattenborg Wise (costumes), Robert Christen (lighting), Josh Horvath and Ray Nardelli (sound) and Lisa Willingham-Johnson (choreographer).
For more information visit GoodmanTheatre.org.