Jubilee Theatre takes a break from staging new fare to resurrect a classic this week. The Tony-winning 1978 musical revue Ain’t Misbehavin’ is built on the songs of Fats Waller, who in his short life (he died before his 40th birthday) managed to pen an enviable collection of future classics.
Thomas Wright Waller came up in the style of jazz known as Harlem stride style, named for its “striding” bass lines in which the pianist’s left hand would play a rhythm consisting of bass notes followed by octaves or chords. Out of this framework, Waller was able to invent songs with a dazzling array of different tones and themes, ranging from broadly comic jaunts (“Your Feet’s Too Big”) to elegantly sexy torch songs (“Honeysuckle Rose”) to raucous dance music (“The Joint Is Jumpin’ ”).
You can hear all these numbers in the show, as well as the tender, wryly humorous “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” which is officially credited to Jimmy McHugh, though there is evidence to suggest that Waller wrote the music and then sold it to McHugh. The play is set during Waller’s heyday of the Harlem Renaissance, and with the musical talent at Jubilee’s disposal, there’s no reason to think this will be anything but a great success.
Ain’t Misbehavin’ runs Mar 21-Apr 20 at Jubilee Theatre, 506 Main St, FW. Tickets are $12-25. Call 817-338-4411.