Show Dates Updated: “Ain’t Misbehavin’: The Fats Waller Musical” will be at PHCC in the Walker Fine Arts building from Feb. 20-22 at 7 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Feb. 23.
The show features a small cast of five actors with all sharing equal billing as lead roles. They are also learning how to tap dance for the production. Director Devin Pendleton, who also serves as artistic director for the Patriot Players, said it’s been a tough show to direct, but one that is extremely rewarding.
“I really wanted to showcase a production to the community that appeals to everyone,” he said. “We don’t just want to stick to children’s shows or ones that segment a particular portion of the population; we want everyone to find something in Patriot Players.”
Whether it’s trying to identify with a character that’s completely opposite, or wrapping their heads around difficult harmonies, the cast of “Ain’t Misbehavin’” has a challenging road ahead.
Erika Becker, who recently played the role of Missy in “Purlie – The Musical,” is returning to the stage as a “voluptuous and sassy” character named Armelia.
“I’ve never really sung jazz, so I thought this show would be a vocal challenge,” she said. “It’s also a physical challenge, because I’m not a dancer. But my character is a lot like me, except that she’s snooty. That’s probably the hardest part – learning how to be snooty.”
Playing the character Andre is Patriot Players veteran, Robbie Hendrix. He’s been stage managing shows for the group since its inception. After gaining a role in this past show “Purlie,” he said it got him back to performing and wanting to be onstage.
“It had been a year since I performed in a show before I did ‘Purlie,’” he said. “I’ve done tons of musicals and straight plays before, but never a jazz show. It’s very different.”
On identifying with his character, Hendrix said, “I’m the complete opposite. Andre is a party hound. When it comes to parties and stuff, I’m more of a wall flower. I just fade into the background. It’s pretty fun to get out there.”
A Brooklyn native who’s in his last year at Averett University is playing the role of Ken. When it comes to acting, Austin Bowen said he knew from the time he was 8 years old that he wanted to do it for the rest of his life.
“Jazz has always been something I’ve wanted to tackle as an actor, so I jumped at the chance to audition for this role,” he said. “I love it. I love the music in the show, the cast who are all talented, and all the production staff. It’s been great working with Devin (Pendleton).”
Bowen said Ken is very charming, joyous and happy all the time, which is not unlike himself personally.
Although she’s a little older than the rest of the cast, Louandrea Young, acting as Nell, said it gives her an edge when she’s in character.
“I really rely on past experiences to help myself get into character,” she said. “She’s very classy and confident, and I can definitely relate to her.”
Young said the music has been a very difficult part of the show to master. She said she still has some work to do, but she feels confident it will all come together.
“We’ll get there – I know we will,” she said.
Verlyria Hairston, playing the role of Charlaine, is the only actor out of the five who has a history with jazz and a love for the genre.
“I’m really looking forward the show, and I’m so glad I was able to be part of it,” she said. “After performing in ‘Purlie,’ the Patriot Players have become like a second family to me. I’m so thrilled to be here.”
Pendleton said the show is really starting to come together. He added that everyone coming to the performance should be ready for something completely new to the area.
“When people come to this show,” he said, “they’re really going to see a different side of Martinsville/Henry County. We don’t have nightclubs here and we don’t have jazz joints, but I guarantee they will be transformed when they come to the show.”
Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door and $15 for premium seating onstage. They can be purchased at the PHCC Switchboard in West Hall.
Due to adult-style humor, the show is open to patrons ages 13 and up.
All performance dates are postponed due to inclement weather, the opening performance will now be Feb. 20 at 7pm, Feb. 21 at 7pm; Feb. 22 at 7pm. and 2 p.m. on Feb. 23.
To find out more, visit www.patrickhenry.edu/patriotplayers or call (276) 638-8777 ext. 0460.