Harlem jazz musical swings La Mirada Theatre into its 40th season – Orange County Register

Sultry, sassy and smooth jams of jazz legend Fats Waller will kick off the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts’ 40th season opening musical “Ain’t Misbehavin’” – starring “Rent” Broadway star Frenchie Davis.

Directed and staged by Ken Page, who was an original cast member of the 1978 Broadway premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical, the production will open with a preview on Friday, Sept. 15 and regular performances beginning Sunday, Sept. 17 through Oct. 8.

Davis, a 2003 contestant on “American Idol” and in 2011 top 12 finalist on “The Voice,” said she has found theater to be a satisfying outlet for her to do what she loves most: perform. Soon after her “Idol” run, she was cast in the Broadway musical “Rent” for a four year-run and a west coast touring production of “Dreamgirls” in 2004.

“My favorite thing in the world is performing live and being on stage. I enjoy that feeling over anything, so any chance I get to do just that, I will,” said Davis, who will reprise her role as Nell Carter, which she performed in the musical’s 30th anniversary national tour in 2008, which earned a Grammy Award nomination for best musical theater album.

The revue pays tribute to Waller and other artists of the 1920s and 1930s jazz era, with the character roles representing the original cast members, including André DeShields (played by Thomas Hobson), Armelia McQueen (Amber Liekhus), Ken Page (Boise Holmes) and Charlayne Woodard  (Natalie Wachen).

“All of the characters in the show kind of symbolize different facets of Fats Waller, and I could relate to him in a lot of ways, especially his big personality and love for music,” Davis said. “This was such a defining era in music history, and it’s just really exciting each time to perform because most of my favorite songs come from this era.”

Since Page is directing and staging the production, Davis said the La Mirada Theatre production will stay “respectful” to the original Broadway musical. Memorable songs such as “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Ain’t Misbehavin,” “Black and Blue,” “This Joint is Jumping,” and “I’ve Got A Feeling I’m Falling” will be performed.

Paying tribute to the Harlem Renaissance era, the stage will be set to look like old Manhattan nightclubs, such as the Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom, and the iconic Lenox Avenue swing and jazz clubs of the 1920s. The five cast members will take turns performing high-spirited,…

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