Aint Misbehaving is coming to Ashland Cabaret Theater! Very excited to see this show! Our guests just went to see it today and loved it! Next week, we will go see it and write more, but if anyone is in Ashland now and hasn’t seen it, it’s supposed to be wonderful! I still remember hearing my mother sing ‘Stormy Weather’ at a small karaoke bar in Tokyo. Karaoke in Japan is a national pastime and everyone must learn a few songs in case they are dragged to a karaoke joint with their colleagues after work, which happens more than you’d like to think. It’s actually lots of fun. Even the people with terrible voices will either hire a singing coach to teach them one or two songs to perfection, or get up on stage and make a complete fool of themselves and make everyone laugh. But you must get on stage.
My favorite Karaoke bar in Tokyo, Smash Hits, is filled with over 50,000 songs in English. It’s located in what we call ‘the Gaijin getto,’ because it’s filled with foreigners, but the exact translation of gaijin is ‘outsider.’ It’s at the end of Hiro-o street, downstairs in a dark little basement, but it’s jam packed with fun! Unlike most Kareoke bars in the U.S., there’s a proper stage that has a very high quality sound system and mics. Saito San, the owner, didn’t cheap out on any of the equipment. Loyal to his customers, he’s always at the bar, adjusting the sound to your voice and sometimes if you beg him enough, he’ll chime in and sing with you; now that’s a treat! They also have instruments on stage, like a drum set, guitars, banjos and tons of costumes and wigs just in case you want to go wild. Often, famous musicians who visit Japan for concerts will pop in there after their performance to see what all the fuss about karaoke is about.
Ain’t Misbehaving is a tribute to black musicians in the 1920 & 1930’s when black musicians found their voice in swing music, which became a source of national pride. The music took off in New York nightclubs and became all the rage throughout the United States. Swing developed over time and became the root of Jazz music. I love watching old movies where the performers break into dancing the swing! I wish I’d learned how myself. Sure would have beat those old boring tap dancing classes I took in high school.
The soul of 1930’s Harlem is captured in this finger-snapping revue. Thomas “Fats” Waller was an iconic musical force, known for his exuberant personality, energetic stride-piano playing, infectious humor and jumping beat. Ain’t Misbehavin’ evokes his good-time joie-de-vivre as a versatile cast sings, dances and carries on to the songs he made famous: Jitterbug Waltz, This Joint Is Jumpin’, Your Feets Too Big, Spreadin’ Rhythm Around, Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now, Honeysuckle Rose and, of course, Ain’t Misbehavin’. Sassy, silly, sultry and with moments of devastating beauty.