Ain't Misbehavin': The Fats Waller Musical Show

Wilson Stage
January 17 – February 12, 2023

Conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Murray Horwitz
Directed & choreographed by Jeffrey L. Page
Co-production with Barrington Stage and Westport Country Playhouse

Winner of 3 Tony Awards – including Best Musical

Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a vibrant celebration of jazz pioneer Fats Waller’s extraordinary career. Jeffrey L. Page (a Broadway director and longtime choreographer for Beyoncé) brings a radical new approach to the show which reveals the masks Fats Waller and his musicians assumed while performing for white audiences – as they created the music of a new era.

Featuring classics from the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s-40s such as “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Your Feet’s Too Big” and “T’Aint Nobody’s Business if I Do,” performed by a cast of five and a live, onstage jazz band, this new production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ will energize, enlighten and entertain.

In Show Photo: Allison Blackwell, Jarvis B. Manning, Jr., Maiesha McQueen, Arnold Harper II and Anastacia McCleskey from the Barrington Stage production of Ain’t Misbehavin’. Photo by Daniel Rader.

Open Captioner: Samantha Geffen
Sign Interpretation Program Coordinator: Luane Davis Haggerty
Director of Artistic Sign Language: Matthew J. Schwartz
Sign Interpreters: Bea Hogan and Danny Huntley
Audio Description Program Coordinator and Consultant: Rene Latorre
Audio Describer: Shye Louis

IN-PERSON PROLOGUE IS BACK!

On select performance dates, come see an in-person prologue one hour before curtain. Prologue is free to attend, even if you do not have tickets for that performance date.

 

Click here to see the full season schedule of prologue dates.

Cast

MIYA BASS (Armelia) is a New York-based director, vocalist, and actor. She has been a contestant on The Voice, X Factor, and Steve Harvey’s radio star competition. Miya has also performed leading roles in several musical theater productions: Aida, Sister Act, The Lion King, Rent, Moana, The Wiz, and many others. Outside of the performing arts industry, Miya is also a licensed psychotherapist and takes immense pride in mental wellness. She can be found on Hulu, Apple Music, Sound cloud, Spotify, and YouTube. Miya gives all honor to God for her gifts and would also like to show gratitude to her number one fan, mom.

PARIS BENNETT (Nell) (she/her) At 5’3”, Bennett may be pint-sized, but she has the undeniable ability to stand out like the brightest star in the sky. She has graced Broadway and Off-Broadway stages as the lead in Rent, Columbia in Rocky Horror, and Nell in Ain’t Misbehavin’. She was a top-five finalist on season five of American Idol and has worked in film with Patti Labelle, Ciara, and Lynn Whitfield. Bennett is putting the final touches on her much-anticipated sophomore album.

JAY COPELAND (Andre) Jay is excited to be making his debut appearance at the Geva Theatre Center! Jay is a native of Salisbury, Maryland where he also attended Salisbury University. He received dual degrees in vocal performance and theatre and was also the first runner-up at the Irene Ryan National Theatrical competition. In 2022, Jay was a contestant on ABC’s American Idol. Jay was the first ever contestant to receive a Platinum Ticket (awarded to the top contestant in each of the 3 cities where American Idol held auditions). During the American Idol season, Jay appeared on over 30 episodes and finished Top 7. Other stage credits include Hairspray (Seaweed), Jesus Christ Superstar (Judas), and the guest opening act for Patti LaBelle in Concert 2022. Jay would like to think the Ain’t Misbehavin’ creative team and casting for offering him this opportunity. Jay studies voice with Dr. John Wesley Wright. Instagram and TikTok: theejaycopeland. Representation (management): Peggy Stamps, The SquarePeg Group, Inc.

JUDITH FRANKLIN (Charlaine) Judith’s interest in performing was ignited as a young girl while singing in her hometown of Missouri City, Texas in the Sunshine Choir at church. She later graduated from Houston’s Grammy Award-winning High School for the Performing & Visual Arts as a vocal and dance major and received a music scholarship to Clark Atlanta University, graduating with a BA in Theatre Arts. Her Broadway dreams came true traveling in the National Broadway Company of Motown The Musical. Judith struck Broadway gold two years in a row as a company member of Donna: The Donna Summer Musical and shortly after performing on Broadway in the Original Broadway Cast of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. She has performed throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and South America. Judith is a proud member of Broadway Inspirational Voices and serves as the NYC Coordinator for the Arts and Education Programs. Special thanks to her family, friends Ent Lab and DGRW for their continued love and support! “Matt 15:6” @judithfranklin

WILL STONE (Ken) Off-Broadway: Plays For The Plague Year, Hercules. Regional: Man of La Mancha, Richard III, Henry VI, Metamorphoses, The Oedipus Plays, King Lear. TV/Film: Pose, Wu-Tang: An American Stage, Law & Order, SNL, Michael & Michael Have Issues, Never Forever. Concerts: World Pride 2019, Patti Lupone 70th Birthday Concert, Broadway Backwards, Tick, Tick Boom! Netflix Premiere, Concert For America, A Tribute to Stephen Shwartz. Education: Juilliard (Group 35)

Band

DeVAUGHN DURHAM (Reed 2) DeVaughn Durham is a Dallas, Texas native who currently plays across the DFW metroplex. After attending the University of NorthTexas he quickly entered the scene and firmly implanted himself amongst some of the best musicians in North Texas. Playing all genres of music has allowed DeVaughn to open for musicians such as Gerald Albright, KC and the Sunshine Band, and more.

KJ GRAY (Bass) KJ Gray is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, born and raised in Dallas, TX. KJ was homeschooled and began working as a full-time musician at the age of 15 and has since gone on to play various styles of music both locally and abroad. Locally, he has received nominations for “Best Bassist” (3),“Best Funk/R&B Act” (2), and “Best New Act” from the Dallas Observer Music Awards and theCentral Track Music Honors. In 2017 he made his theater debut in the production of the critically acclaimed musical HAIR! at the Tony Award winning Dallas Theater Center, where he sang, played bass, and participated in comedic improv. He has since played, acted and/or composed for A Winter’s Tale, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, A Christmas Carol and the annual DTCGala (3) at Dallas Theater Center. Based in Dallas, he continues to record, teach and perform weekly with his family band, TheGrays (@wethemgrays).

Kwinton Gray (Conductor/Piano) Kwinton Gray was born and raised in Dallas, Texas where he and siblings received a homeschooled education from their mother. Kwinton comes from a musical family, and he performs w/ his siblings in their family band known as “The Grays.” He also started his own jazz/ fusion group “The Kwinton Gray Project” which released their debut album in 2018 titled Leap of Faith. Both bands continue to perform locally and abroad. In 2017, Kwinton was awarded the Dallas Observer Music Award for Best Keyboardist. He began touring w/ Tony Award nominated director/choreographer Camile A. Brown & Dancers in 2018. He has toured and performed around the globe with acts such as Lalah Hathaway, Janet Jackson, Mononeon, Liv Warfield, The Funky Knuckles, and more.

PHIL JOSEPH (Trombone) Phil Joseph is a trombone player from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He has been playing the trombone for about 20 plus years and it’s been an amazing experience. He gained a passion for music when he attended the University of Texas at Arlington. While attending, he met a few people along the way that showed him what the trombone could do for me in the real world. Since then, he’s traveled to various countries and performed with many artists throughout his career, and it is a pleasure to be able to be performing this amazing play Ain’t Misbehavin’ featuring music by Fats Waller.

JONATHAN MONES (Reed 1) is a woodwind multi-instrumentalist based in Dallas, Texas. Born and raised in the DFW area, Jonathan began playing piano at the age of 6 and picked up the saxophone at age 11, and has since also learned flute, alto flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet. Upon graduating from the University of North Texas with a performance degree in Jazz Studies, Jonathan has toured all over the world with 7-time Grammy-winning artist Robert “Sput” Searight as a member of his funk-jazz supergroup Ghost-Note, as well as a freelance musician with many artists. Jonathan has performed in over 20 different countries around the world in Europe, Asia, and South America and has also composed, arranged, and produced music for many projects, including over 15 studio albums, commercials, and YouTube series amassing millions of views and thousands of fans worldwide.

KAZUNORI “KAZU” TANA (Trumpet)Originally from Tokyo, Kazunori Tanaka (known in Japan as 田中一徳) has been a trumpeter in the US for over 6 years in addition to his career as a professional musician in Japan since 2010. He has done commercial work such as: recording sessions, tour support, live sessions, and performances – as well as teaching. His work in Japan includes playing for: Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire Super Music Complete (OST for Pokémon OmegaRuby & Alpha Sapphire), Eric Miyashiro Band for TBS Broadcast Station, and Manhattan Jazz Orchestra JapanTour at Billboard Osaka. He first came to Dallas-Fort Worth to pursue his master’s degree in Jazz Studies from UNT, where he was a member of the One O’Clock Lab Band from 2016- 2019. He recorded for Lab ’18 and Lab ’19. On Lab ’18, he was featured for the tune with his name “Blues for Kazu” and recorded the cadenza with 4 octaves of D flat from pedal tone to double register. He chose to come to Dallas in order to experience how UNT trained legendary musicians such as: Frank Greene, Dan Fornero, Gary Grant, and John Thomas, as well as to follow the footprints of his favorite trumpeter – Roy Hargrove – who was based in Dallas. After graduation, he decided to make Dallas his home, and continues to play alongside Dallas native musicians, such as Shaun Martin (Snarky Puppy), Frank Moka (Erykah Badu and Chris Dave and the Drum Headz), Daniel Jones (Music Director of both Erykah Badu and Janet Jackson), Shelly Carroll (Duke Ellington Orchestra), and RC Williams’ (Erykah Badu) RC and the Gritz, he also played in the band at Blue Note Tokyo on March 11th and 12th, 2019. He also performed with Marcus Miller in the concert for celebrating another Dallas legend Bobby Sparks on June 10th, 2021. On October 21st, 2021, he played at Hollywood Bowl as a member of opening act Dos Negros (Erykah Badu’s Drummer Frank Moka’s band) on October 21st. Other than that, he plays in recording sessions as well as live performances in jazz groups, big bands, fusion/neo soul bands, and so on.

JACKIE WHITMILL (Drums) Born and raised in Dallas, Texas in 1996, Jackie, also known as Jvice (juice) has a very adamant respect for drums. From growing up playing gospel records and playing in church at the age of 3 to sharing stages with Bobby Sparks, The Peterson Brothers, Shaun Martin, The Kwinton Gray Project, and many other artists and great musicians, his works and personality has touched many who have crossed paths with him. He is a 2014 graduate of Booker T Washington High School of Performing and Visual Arts which has fostered talents such as Erykah Badu, Roy Hargrove, Norah Jones and many more. Also he has had schooling at The New England Conservatory, studying with Legends such as Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Moses and Billy Hart. Jackie took great advantage of his experiences with masterclasses, lessons, and created a voice that cannot be forgotten. By using his understanding of history to fuel his identity, he hopes to give the world a bold but exciting understanding of who Jackie Whitmill II, Jvice (juice) truly is.

Artistic and Creative Team

JEFFREY PAGE (Director/Choreographer) (he/ him) is an Emmy-nominated and MTV VMA-winning director and choreographer. Broadway Direction: 1776. Broadway Choreography: 1776; Violet. Choreographer on Beyoncé’s Run the World and FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance. Commercial Direction and Choreography: Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Barrington Stage Company, Geva Theatre Center, Westport Country Playhouse); Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, Choir Boy (Philadelphia Theatre Company); Jamie, Memphis (HoriPro, Inc. Japan). Regional Choreography: Who Could Ask for Anything More?, Company, Broadway Bounty Hunter (Barrington, Berkshire Theatre Award); Mlima’s Tale (Westport). Philadelphia Theatre Company Resident Artist. American Repertory Theatre Artist Fellow. Lecturer in Theatre, Dance, and Media at Harvard University.

FRITZLYN “FRITZ” HECTOR (Assistant Director/Choreographer) is a 2021 Bessie Award winning Haitian Brooklyn native director, choreographer, performer, and educator seasoned with a multi-dimensional career of over 25 years. Fritz traveled extensively worldwide for 20 years as a performer, workshop facilitator, and current cast trainer for the Off-Broadway show STOMP. Fritz is a principal dancer and rehearsal director for Forces of Nature Dance Theatre Company and is the director of The Fritzation Experience. A guest teaching artist for Broadway.com, Theatre Direct, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Earl Mosley and a guest performer with the Dorrance Dance Company. Fritzlyn taught at Princeton University, NYU, Hofstra University, and is currently the Director of Dance at Long Island University Post. Fritzlyn is featured on NETFLIX’s Julie’s Greenroom, The Jimmy Fallon Show, Good Morning America, CBS Harry Connick Jr Show, CBS WE California, Australia’s Adelaide Festival, VH1 GevaTheatre.org 13 WHO’S WHO Hip Hop Honors, PBS “Free to Dance”, Google Maps Live Wire navigation commercial and the upcoming 2023 Amazon Prime’s Musica film.

KWINTON GRAY (Music Director) Kwinton Gray was born and raised in Dallas, Texas where he and siblings received a homeschooled education from their mother. Kwinton comes from a musical family, and he performs w/ his siblings in their family band known as “The Grays.” He also started his own jazz/ fusion group “The Kwinton Gray Project” which released their debut album in 2018 titled Leap of Faith. Both bands continue to perform locally and abroad. In 2017, Kwinton was awarded the Dallas Observer Music Award for Best Keyboardist. He began touring w/ Tony Award nominated director/choreographer Camile A. Brown & Dancers in 2018. He has toured and performed around the globe with acts such as Lalah Hathaway, Janet Jackson, Mononeon, Liv Warfield, The Funky Knuckles, and more.

GENO YOUNG (Assistant Music Director) Geno Young is a music director, performing artist, and scholar who influences many facets of today’s musical landscape. A Grammy-nominated songwriter, he has served as musical director and producer for some of soul music’s most influential performers, including Erykah Badu. Geno is a graduate of Howard University in Washington DC and holds a Master of Music Education from Boston University. He has toured internationally as a performer, musical director, producer, conductor, and lecturer. Geno served as one of the first African American Governors for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Texas) and is a voting member of the Grammy awards. While consistently garnering stellar reviews for his work in theatre, Geno is incredibly proud to work with Geva Theatre Center and congratulates the cast of Ain’t Misbehavin’ on a successful run.

PHILLIP ROSENBERG (Lighting Designer) Broadway and West End: Mrs. Doubtfire, Pretty Woman, The Elephant Man, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and It’s Only a Play. Regional: Kennedy Center, La Jolla Playhouse, Ford’s Theatre, The Guthrie Theater, The Old Globe, TheatreWorks, Hartford Stage, Alliance, Huntington Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Dallas Theatre Center, Denver Center Theatre, The Alley Theatre, Arena Stage, The McCarter Theatre, Manhattan School of Music, Portland Stage Company, TACT, Barrington Stage Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Dorset Theatre Festival, Bay Street Theatre, Goodspeed Opera, Two River Theatre Company, George Street Playhouse, and Westport Country Playhouse.

LEON ROTHENBERG (Sound Designer) Tony Award for Sound Design: The Nance. Recent Broadway: Hillary and Clinton, The Waverly Gallery, Mike Birbiglia’s The New One, The Boys In The Band, A Doll’s House Part 2. Regional: Barrington Stage, Williamstown Theater Festival, Arizona Theatre Company, Huntington Theater, Arena Stage, A.C.T., Old Globe, Pasadena Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Seattle Rep, La Jolla, others. NY: Playwrights’ Horizons, Classic Stage Company, NYCC, Primary Stages, Second Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, Public Theater, others. International: Cirque du Soleil, National Theatre of Cyprus, Dijon International Festival. klaxson.net

RAUL ABREGO (Scenic Design) Raul Abrego is a set designer for Opera, Theater and Television. His work has been seen at The Juilliard Opera Center, The Manhattan School of Music, The Spoleto Opera Festival in Italy, The Rattlestick, Cherry Lane Theater and Intar. Noted Recent projects: Adam and I for Princeton University, book and lyrics by Mel Hornyak and Elliot Valentine Lee Directed by Georgina Escobar, Ain’t Misbehavin’ for Barrington Stage, directed by Jeffrey Page. The Brobot Johnson Experience by Darian Dauchan at The Bushwick Starr. Assistant Art Director credits for Television include: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 3 & 4, Ghost (PowerBook2) and John Wick, Art Director for Falling Water (pilot), The Outcasts (film) and Production Designer for 2009 film Cruzando.

OANA BOTEZ (Costume Designer) is an international set/costume designer for film, theater, opera, and dance. She is a Princess Grace recipient, NEA/ TCG Career Development Program recipient, and has received The Barrymore Award, and was nominated for the Henry Hewes Design Award, The Lucille Lortel Award.

New York: BAM Next Wave, Bard SummerScape/ Richard B.Fisher Center, Playwrights Horizons, Baryshnikov Arts Center, The David H.Koch Theater/Lincoln Center, Big Apple Circus/Lincoln Center, Classic Stage Company.
Regional: Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Barrington Stage Company); Macbeth (Old Globe); Angels in America (Wilma); Man in a Case (Hartford).
Opera: Song of Ambassadors (Alice Tully Hall/ Lincoln Center); Carmen (Minneapolis Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Portland Opera); In a Grove (Pittsburgh Opera); Persona (National Sawdust, REDCAT); A House in Bali (BAM).
Internationally: Bucharest National Theater (Romania), Château de Versailles, Théâtre Nationalde Chaillot, Les Subsistances,The Old Vic, Budapest National Theater, Cluj Hungarian National Theater (Romania), Le Quartz (Brest, France), La Filature (Mulhousse, France), Exit Festival/Maison des Arts Creteil, Tanz im August Festival Hebbel am Ufer–HAU1 (Berlin, Germany), Edinburgh International Festival, Singapore Arts Festival. She is teaching at David Geffen School of Drama at Yale in the Design Department.

DARLENE MIYAKAWA (Stage Manager) is delighted to be a part of Geva’s 50th Season. Based in Los Angeles and a member of AEA and AGMA. Previous Geva credits: Somewhere (SM), Yoga Play (SM), How to Catch Creation (ASM), Vietgone (SM). This co-production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ holds a place in her heart-staying up working out the schedule, reviewing choreo, and rehearsing with the understudy cast during the run at Barrington with Darius. RIP Darius Barnes. And cheers to all of the AM Company.

JULIA BREGY (Assistant Stage Manager) Julia is thrilled to be a part of Geva’s 2022/23 season. She would like to thank her family and friends for all of their support. New York: Disc Oasis NYC (Constellation Immersive), Proud Ladies (James William Productions). Regional: Measure for Measure (Fiasco Theatre/Actors Theatre of Louisville), Christmas Carol (Actors Theatre of Louisville), The Wolves (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Fun Home (Speakeasy Boston), Little Women (Perseverance Theatre). International: Little Mermaid (Metta Theatre London), I Do Need Me (Metta Theatre), I’m Not a Bit Like a Clown (MetaTheatre).

ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON (Artistic Director) has built a distinguished career as a producer, director, dramaturg, and adaptor. She has worked extensively throughout the U.S. and around the globe, including on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in London’s West End before becoming the Artistic Director of Geva Theatre in 2022. For Geva Theatre, she directed and adapted Jane Eyre to launch the 50th Anniversary season. Other recent projects include dramaturging the Young Vic/West End/ Broadway production of Matthew López’ The Inheritance (Tony, Olivier, Critics Circle, Evening Standard, GLAAD, and Drama Desk Awards for Best Play, Outer Critics Circle Honoree); dramaturging the Hartford Stage/Broadway productions of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Tony Award for Best Musical) and Anastasia; artistic producing, co-directing and dramaturging the online version of Sarah Gancher’s Russian Troll Farm (TheaterWorks Hartford/TheatreSquared/ The Civilians, New York Times’ “Best Theater of 2020”); directing and adapting Jane Eyre (Hartford Stage); dramaturging Bess Wohl’s Make Believe (Outer Critics Circle Honoree, New York Times’ “Best Theater of 2019”); and directing Henry V (Hartford Stage). Williamson’s extensive organizational leadership experience includes serving as Associate Artistic Director and Literary Manager at Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City from 2008 – 2012 and as Associate Artistic Director and Director of New Play Development at Hartford Stage from 2012 – 2020. As a freelance artist, she has also worked for About Face Theatre, the Act French Festival, ACT, Berkeley Rep, Cal Shakes, Court Theatre, Figureatret i Nordland in Norway, HERE, the La Jolla Playhouse, Steppenwolf Theatre, the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Primary Shages, Theatre de La Jeune Lune, Universal Studios, Westport Country Playhouse, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and London’s Young Vic. Education: M.St. Oxford University, B.A., Bennington College, trained at the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris and with Complicité. She is the 2007 recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literary Translation. Member: SDC, LMDA.

CHRISTOPHER MANNELLI (Executive Director) Joined Geva in 2016 from Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, a Tony Awardwinning institution dedicated to new plays and playwrights, where he has served as Managing Director. During his five-year tenure he led the reorganization of the institution and was responsible for the strategic planning, fundraising, and audience development initiatives that created the theatre’s new business model. Chris oversaw numerous award-winning productions, increased contributed income, and launched innovative membership and audience engagement initiatives. Prior to his work with Victory Gardens, he served as Deputy Director at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, one of the largest nonprofit theatres in Chicago. He oversaw operations and helped to produce the theatre’s “World Stage” international programming, including Chicago Shakespeare’s first-ever tour to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. Before moving to Chicago, Chris was the Managing Director for HotCity Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri. In this capacity, he was instrumental in the company’s financial and programmatic growth, which included education programs, new play initiatives, and several collaborations with prominent arts organizations. He has served on the board of directors of the League of Chicago Theatres, as a steering committee member for Enrich Chicago (a group of arts organizations in Chicago working collectively to address racial equity), and as a board member for the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce and the community board of Emerald City Theatre. In 2017 he was appointed to the New York State Council on the Arts’ Theatre Advisory Panel, where he served for two years. He has also served on the board of directors for the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), and the Washington Square Park Community Association. He currently serves on the corporate board for the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center and the board of the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation (RDDC) as a member of the executive and nominating committees. Chris grew up on Long Island and began his career as an actor and a musician, touring nationally and internationally. He holds a B.A. in opera performance from the SUNY Geneseo School of Performing Arts, an M.F.A. in Arts Leadership from DePaul University, and an Executive Scholars Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.