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'Ain't Misbehavin'' returns 

click to enlarge READY TO MISBEHAVE: At the Rep.
  • READY TO MISBEHAVE: At the Rep.
Roberta Thomas, who wowed audiences in “Dreamgirls,” and director/choreographer Ron Hutchins, who put the steps in such Arkansas Repertory Theatre hits as “Anything Goes,” “Cinderella” and “Children of Eden,” are back with the Rep in the new production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” which opens Friday, May 6. Get a sneak preview of the show and be part of a discussion with Hutchins on Thursday, May 5, beginning at 7:15 p.m. at the Rep, 601 Main St. Official opening is at 8 p.m. Friday. Showtimes also are 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday and at 7 p.m. Wednesday and 8 p.m. Thursday, continuing through June 5. Saturday 2 p.m. matinees are set for May 21 and June 4. The Wednesday, May 11, show will be signed for the hearing impaired. The upbeat, jazzy “Ain’t Misbehavin’” is based on the music of Thomas “Fats” Waller from the 1930s and ’40s, including such Waller tunes as “Mean to Me,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Black and Blue” and the musical’s title song. The Broadway version took the Tony Award and made a star out of its original leading lady, the late Nell Carter. Thomas will have the lead role in the Rep’s production, after garnering nightly standing ovations for her work in “Dreamgirls” last summer. Thomas returned to perform at the Rep’s annual Saints and Sinners Masked Ball earlier this year. Thomas will be performing a special cabaret show at the Rep on Tuesday, May 31. The cast includes five principal actors, two understudies and a six-member band. Hutchins is in his 18th production at the Rep. “ ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’” focuses on the artistry of a musical legend — Fats Waller — that is undeniably fun,” Hutchins said. Thomas and other castmembers Karla L. Beard, Kenney M. Green, Cynthia Thomas, and Stanley White, are all members of Actors’ Equity Association. Beard recently was part of a “Scrooge the Musical” national tour and has several regional theatre credits. Green, who is the musical director for Broadway Arts Productions, has appeared in a national tour of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” one among several theatre credits. White, a Chicago native, starred in the Rep’s production of “Blues in the Night.” Cynthia Thomas, who was in a national tour of “Ain’t Misbehavin’” with the Pointer Sisters, appeared in the mid-1990s in the Rep’s “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” Set, costume and sound design are by resident Rep designers Mike Nichols, Robert Pittenridge and M. Jason Pruzin. Lighting design is by David Neville, who has worked on more than 200 regional theatre productions and who previously designed the lighting for the Rep’s production of “Art.” Musical director Phillip Hall is in his fourth stint as pianist and musical director for “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” having previously performed at Tennessee Repertory Theatre, CMS Theatre and The Great Caruso Dinner Theatre. Tickets are $35 for orchestra seating and $28 for mezzanine seating. Call 378-0405 or toll-free at 866-684-3737. Tickets for Thomas’ May 31 cabaret are $100 and the price includes an open bar and dinner, which starts at 7 p.m.
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