For the Pointer Sisters, Their "Ain''t Misbehavin''" Tour Gets Them Back in Touch with "the Heart" of Show Business
The tour of "Ain''t Misbehavin''," the Fats Waller revue starring the Pointer Sisters, continues its buoyant, slap-happy march across the country in December with holiday stops in Fort Lauderdale (through Dec. 3); Boston (6-17); Rosemont, Illinois (19-24); and Louisville, Kentucky (26-31). The chart-topping pop stars ("Jump," "I''m So Excited") show no signs of flagging on what is their first theatrical experience, one that will take them on more whistle-stops through August 1996.
"This has been a whole new experience for us, a real broadening of our horizons," says June Pointer, the baby of the Oakland-based family trio. "I mean, we just had to do it. Theatre is the heart of the show-business world. It''s like the grandmother of us all." June, speaking for her sisters--Anita and Ruth--says that they''ve been thrilled to be in these grandma hands, even if it has meant learning to stick to a whole new set of rules in performing. Their more-experienced colleagues in the cast--Eugene Barry-Hill and Michael-Leon Wooley--have provided them some of their newly learned stage savvy.
"It''s really hard for us not to say `Thank you'' or bow to the audience on each individual number as we might do in a concert," says June. "And our fans are likely to yell out for us to sing `Jump'' or one of our other hits. But they stick around even if we don''t. This show doesn''t disappoint."
Indeed, it doesn''t. The original 1978 production, featuring Nell Carter, Ken Page, Armelia McQueen, Andre De Shields and Charlaine Woodard, took the Tony Award for Best Musical that year, and the sisters say that living up to that standard has pushed them "to the max" to do their best work. "We studied real hard and drove Billy McDaniel [the pianist and musical director] crazy," says June. "We really divided the original score according to who sounded the best on what song." All of the songs in "Ain''t Misbehavin''" were either written or made famous by Fats Waller, and it is his bouncy spirit, says June, that drives the show. "This is the first time we''ve ever done any of Fats''s music, but we''re so impressed with his free spirit without any bitterness on racism," adds the singer. "It gives you hope, and that must be why people found these songs so appealing during the Depression when Fats was writing them."
That holds true as much for now as then apparently. The show has been doing very well on the road, and a new cast album of this production is set for commercial release in March 1996. "We''re just so happy and pleased that they want to record us doing these songs," says June. "It''s really an honor because the music is so fantastic."
-- By Patrick Pacheco