Things may be turning chilly in Penn Valley Park…
But Andy Parkhurst and Michael Grayman— the dudes behind newcomer Spinning Tree Theatre— are heating up one corner of that sylvan glade with the hot hits of AIN’T MISBEHAVIN (now thru November 17 at the Just Off Broadway Theatre).
This theater’s a bit hard to find– head north on Wyandotte from Linwood Blvd until it turns into Central, cross 31st Street to 3051 Central– but that’s where the joint is really jumpin in this well-built homage to jazz great Fats Waller and a Tony Award winning Best Musical revue.
Andy’s fluid, inventive staging and the exceptional musical direction of wunderkind Angie Benson at the piano drive this fine production, but it’s in the casting that Spinning Tree really shines. KC musical theater stalwart (and star) Jennie Greenberry is luminous out there on the JOB stage, getting every lick of comedy and pathos out of her performance. Jazz baby Eboni Fondren brings her cabaret sass and style to the proceedings. When these two gals get going, you can’t take your eyes off ’em.
Ron Lackey‘s one big ole ball of fun in this AIN’T MISBEHAVIN– his scenes with the tiny fireball of a talent Linnaia McKenzie are especially delightful to savor. I closed my eyes and could hear the sardonic style of Broadway veteran Andre DeShields every time Matthew King opened his month — he’s a Viper on a mission.
Did I mention Andy and Michael nailed it with these five terrific actors?
Just Off Broadway’s a bit stark, so the design elements are simple, though they get the job done. Julian Goff on drums and Brian Wilson— a theatrical mainstay– on stand up bass tore into this score with style and verve, keeping up with the manic Ms. Benson on every measure.
A corner of KC usually reserved for dog runs and late night assignations, Penn Valley Park’s getting a dose of high energy fun for the next two weeks. Fats may have been famous for saying “One never knows, do one”; but there was no question in the minds of the happy patrons streaming out of Just Off Broadway last weekend — this AIN’T MISBEHAVIN is the Fall’s musical hit.