For the past two weeks the Howard University Department of Theatre Arts has put on their own production of the Broadway standard Ain’t Misbehavin’ in the Ira Aldridge Theater and it was definitely a show worth seeing.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a musical revue which features compositions inspired by the late jazz legend, Fats Waller. The production follows a group of young people during the Harlem Renaissance as they spend a night at a jazz night club. It features five main performers who perform a variety of songs which is intended to encompass the various moods of the era and pay homage to those who contributed to the Jazz Age.

The production is unlike typical broadway productions in that it does not feature a plot and the characters do not speak much- the story is truly told through the music. This aspect made it the most riveting. It gave the performers the opportunity to really bring the songs to life. The very talented students who participated were lively, committed and energetic. They often engaged the audience and really animated the songs, specifically during comedic bits such as“Your Feet’s Too Big.” However, when the time came they displayed the necessary emotion to carry songs such as “Black and Blue”, which is a reflection upon the minstrel shows and negative portrayals of Black people at the time. It was their commitment and dedication to the music that made the audience feel engaged and involved.

The high energy, poignant performances and constant laughs made Ain’t Misbehavin’ a must see. It took the genre of jazz, which is one that is typically undervalued, and made it approachable and fun for the modern age.

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