If you’re a theater lover then you’ll enjoy the musical “Ain’t Misbehavin’” which features the music of Fats Waller who was a great talent in the 1920s and 1930s. Waller was a composer, singer, piano player, comedian and a great artist of the Harlem Renaissance. The Irving Street Repertory theatre group is featuring the musical “Ain’t Misbehavin’” at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West in the Bronx, on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 8 p.m.
This writer had the opportunity to talk with Dawn Marie Driver, one of the cast members of the show. A soprano, Driver is joined in the show by fellow cast members Tony Perry, Anita Welch, Ron Lucas and Melvinna Rose. Driver has toured extensively nationally and internationally with “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and also “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” another show she is associated with. She also co-wrote three musicals with Bishop Townsley: “Night Songs” (an anthology of gospel music), “Follow the Star” (Christmas pageantry) and “Love Song” (a classical show). Driver has a background in gospel and theater.
Driver explained, “We have a great time when we do the show. It is primarily a musical. The story is told through each song. It is about 30 songs. The show has its comical aspects and the cast tries to keep the audience in stitches. The music is comprised of blues, ragtime, swing and jazz. We try to hit every cord. We also do some of the dances of the Harlem Renaissance era which we worked on with famed choreographer Louis Johnson. We keep the show moving and alive so the audience is going to see a lot of jiggling and movement in the show. I had the pleasure of meeting the original composer of ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’,’ Mr. Richard Maltby Jr.” Driver does the Nell Carter role in “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and the BJ Crosby role in “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”
Driver continued, “Irving Street Repertory is a touring company. Through the company I toured with Smokey Joe’s Cafe. ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ is also a touring show but sometimes we do it locally because we try to keep the music of Fats Waller going. Driver is a Brooklyn resident. Emmy Award winner A. Curtis Farrow is the CEO of the Irving Street Repertory and Ron Lucas is a co-owner of Irving Street Repertory.
“Through Irving Street, I have met some of the great people of theater like legendary off-Broadway producer Woodie King, Carol Woods, Ruby Dee and Ben Vereen who is like family. Ben was doing the show ‘Wicked’ across the street from our theater so he would drop by, join in, and dazzle the people. Ruby Dee did a movie called ‘Steam’ and at the end of the movie she sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ Our group does the sound credits at the end of the movie,” reminisced the singer.
“I joined St Mark’s Church when I was 10 years old. The church is famous for gospel music and that is where I got my start. I have been under the tutelage of Bishop Nathanial Townsley for the last 40 years. The church also serves as a venue where we perform gospel classics, gospel jazz, fusion, hip hop, and an onstage musical entitled ‘Night Songs the New Musical’ which features some of the music of Bishop Townsley. We do it all! We present music from slavery times through the gospel jubilee period all the way to today’s contemporary gospel,” claimed the Audelco Award winner.
Tune into https://www.blogtalkradio.com/blakeradio
/2020/01/07/topically-yours–dawn-marie-driver-of-aint-misbehavin to get further info about the show at Lehman Center where tickets to “Ain’t Misbehavin’” can be obtained by calling 718-960-8833 and/or on line at www.