Excitement flowed onto the stage where nine performers, backed by an onstage, six-piece band, tapped and swung their way through nearly three dozen tunes celebrating the black musicians of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and ’30s.
Directed and choreographed by Harry Bryce, the cast included FAMU students Chelsea Williams, Abigail Williams, Brandon Hayword, Arnetrius Williams, Jessica Dickey, Kim Hicks and FAMU alumni Marty Lamar and Maricius Richardson.
Arnetrius Williams expressed the complexities of a love triangle between a man and another woman in “Gotta Feeling I’m Falling” and “Mean to Me.”
Lamar offered comedic relief with his rendition of “Your Feet’s Too Big” and “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Right Myself a Letter.”
Chelsea Williams, draped in lavish fur, sang “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now” and “Yacht Club Swing.”
Sharon Butler, an English student from Vero Beach, said she was amazed at the quality of the show.
“You can tell that they put a lot of work in this by the harmonizing of the songs, and all the dancing that went into every song,” she said. “At one point I thought it was Whitney Houston on stage. After seeing this show I definitely have a new perspective on what a musical is.”
Tiffany Graham, costume and hair designer for the production, said the show was a handful but she enjoyed seeing her work come alive on stage.
“I had my work cut out for me when I was doing the wigs because the cast was doing so much moving around stage,” said Graham. “It took a team and a lot of hard work to bring the ‘30s to the stage, but I had so much fun recreating the costumes and learning how black people dressed back in those days.”
“Ain’t Misbehavin” put a new spin on an era when blacks began thriving economically, and using dance and jazz as a way to express themselves.
Dickey said she had high expectations of the show.
“I knew it would a success,” Dickey said. “We put too much hard work and sweat into for it not to be.”