Arts & Entertainment: Music everywhere and feet are pattin’ at the Athens!

ROWDY TRIBUTE — The cast of Ain’t Misbehavin’ celebrates the music of Fats Waller July 16-Aug. 8. From left are Tatiana C. Rivera, Adonus Mabry, Gabriel Hannans, Matti Endsley, Lauren Muller and Eduardo A. Rivera. 

We’re about to “start spreadin’ rhythm around” at the Athens Theatre as Ain’t Misbehavin’ swings onto the stage from Friday, July 16, through Sunday, Aug. 8. 

Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a rowdy, hilarious tribute to Fats Waller and the Black swing and jazz musicians of the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural revival of African American music, dance, art, fashion, literature, theater and politics that was centered in Harlem in the 1920s and ’30s. Manhattan nightclubs, for instance, were filled with singers and pianists like Fats Waller banging out new music. 

Waller laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano, and Ain’t Misbehavin’ includes the title number and “Honeysuckle Rose,” both Grammy Hall of Fame inductees. It also includes his very first published composition, “Squeeze Me,” among many, many others. 

Under the inspired direction of Joshian Morales, these stomping, swerving, popping numbers swing to life with a full-size live band and a cast of stratospherically talented Black performers from Central Florida, including familiar stage-stealers Matti Endsley (The Producers, The Wedding Singer) and Gabriel Hannans (Sister Act, The Lion King), and Adonus Mabry, Lauren Muller, Eduardo A. Rivera and Tatiana C. Rivera in their Athens debuts! 

The original Broadway cast featured sitcom and stage star Nell Carter (who won a Tony for the role), Hadestown’s André De Shields and Ken Page (Oogie Boogie, Nightmare Before Christmas, among other Broadway credits). It was so successful that NBC aired a broadcast featuring the original cast, and Carter and De Shields both took home Emmys. Now Central Florida audiences will have a chance to see a cast that could rival the original! 

Winner of Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Revival of a Musical, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (according to The New York Times) brings “zing and sparkle” to its audiences. The show includes such favorites as “Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do,” “The Joint Is Jumpin’,” “Black and Blue,” “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” Grab yourself a ticket, sit yourself down, and “join the crowd who relax” at the Athens, “to drown all their cares away!” 

Tickets cost $31 for preferred reserved seating (rows A-F); $26 for adults; $24 for senior citizens; $12 for students/children; and $22 per person for groups of eight or more. A $3-per-ticket processing charge will be added to each purchase. 

The historic Athens Theatre, at 124 N. Florida Ave. in Downtown DeLand, has taken extensive precautions to ensure the safety of its patrons, staff, volunteers and actors. 

To purchase tickets in advance or to find out more specific information about dates, times and safety precautions, visit the Athens Theatre website at www.AthensDeLand.com. The box office can be reached 1-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, and 1 1/2 hours before live performances. Call 386-736-1500.