Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Elden Street Players Ain’t Misbehavin’

By • Aug 17th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Ain’t Misbehavin’
Elden Street Players
Industrial Strength Theater, Herndon, VA
Through August 20th
2:00 with one intermission
$22/$19 Students & Seniors
Reviewed August 12th, 2011

Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a musical revue named after the song by Fats Waller, “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” As a revue, there really isn’t a story to be told. Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a series of performed songs from the 1920’s and 30’s, and as such this production felt much more like a jazz concert than musical theater.

The singers (Jade Jones, Patrick Doneghy, Michelle Harmon, Christopher Prince, Rikki Howie, Jeremy Austin, Paige Grayson, Becca Harney, and Lolita-Marie) and musicians (J. Michael d’Haviland, Alisha Coleman, Alex Gandolfo, Jim Hoffman, Milo Johnson, Daniel Lee, and Eric Lindberg) were wonderful. The music was mostly upbeat, with an infectious tempo, and enjoyable interactions between the performers. Characterizations were light, as the actors changed who they were playing often.

James Villarrubia’s set and Cathy Rieder’s scene design allowed for the action to easily move between the neighborhood streets and a smoky jazz club. The orchestra was nestled, apparently comfortably, into the corner of the playing space. There were many costume changes, all of which were attractive, and at times suggestive.

If you’re a fan of jazz, you’ll love this production. If you’re looking for a more traditional musical theatre production, you may enjoy yourself, but Ain’t Misbehavin’ is not going to hold your attention.

Director’s Notes

Thank you for joining our production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ a Fats Waller Musical conceived by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby Jr. This play has been one of my favorite shows having performed it exactly 10 years ago and it is my pleasure to bring it to you for your enjoyment.

Why Ain’t Misbehavin’? Easy for me to answer. It showcases extraordinary talent in not only the performers but the band and the man himself Fats Waller. Most forget about his music until they see this show. One thing I decided to do for this show Is not only to ensure that I had knock out talent to perform it but I wanted to ensure that I told the story of Fats Waller. Part of the success of this show is not only in it musicality but in the relationships between the characters on stage thru their comic asides and emotional tales thru song. It is not just a string of songs being performed, it is a musical story of Fats Waller’s life. A man who built his career on stride piano, comedy, vocal ability also a love of women and parties much like those in the Harlem Renaissance. Ain’t Misbehavin’ does that and more in its entirety.

Seen usually as a cast of 5, where the two male leads play different ages of Fats in his life and three women are the love of his life. I have added a small ensemble to enhance the story. So from my Elden Street onstage family to yours enjoy.

Thank you to Elden Street Players for the support belief and faith in my directing this show for you. It’s been a joy and a dream come true!

“One never knows do one”

Rikki Howie

Photo Gallery

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Photos by Traci J. Brooks


Roles originally created by:

  • Nell Carter: Jade Jones
  • Andre DeSheilds: Patrick Doneghy
  • Armeila McQueen: Michelle Harmon
  • Ken Page: Christopher Prince
  • Charlayne Woodard: Rikki Howie
  • Ensemble: Jeremy Austin, Paige Grayson, Becca Harney, Lolita-Marie

ESP Honeysuckle Band

  • Piano: J. Michael d’Haviland
  • Reeds: Alisha Coleman
  • Reeds: Alex Gandolfo
  • Drums: Jim Hoffman
  • Bass: Milo Johnson
  • Trumpet: Daniel Lee
  • Trombone: Eric Lindberg


  • Producer: Michelle Bell
  • Assistant Producer: Leah Aspell
  • Director: Richelle “Rikki” Howie
  • Music Direction: J. Michael d’Haviland
  • Choreography: Richelle “Rikki” Howie
  • Stage Manager: Joan A.S. Lada
  • Set Design: James Villarrubia
  • Master Carpenter: James Villarrubia
  • Set Crew: Bob Bell, Teresa Bender, Greg Morton, Marty Sullivan
  • Set Painting: Cathy Rieder, James Villarrubia
  • Scenic Painter: Cathy Reider
  • lighting Design: Jeff Boatright
  • lighting Crew: Evan Hoffman, Laura Moody
  • Light Boar Operators: Josiah Allen, Mike O’Connell
  • Sound Design: Stan Harris
  • Sound Crew: Laura Moody
  • Costume Design: Mary Ayala Bush, Judy Whelihan
  • Choreography: Rikki Howie
  • Hair/Make-up Design: Laura Fontaine
  • Set Dressing: Laura Fontaine, James Villarrubia
  • Properties: Robinette Dorsey
  • House Management: Dave Sinclair
  • Box Office Manaegment: Rich Klare, Richard Durkin
  • Publicity: Rich Klare, Evan Hoffman, Ginger Kohles
  • Cover Graphics/Playbill: Ginger Kohles
  • Photographer: Traci J. Brooks

Disclaimer: Elden Street Players provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review. ESP also purchased advertising on the web site for both their auditions and performances, which did not influence this review.

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