There are several plays and musicals that attempt to capture the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance. Ain’t Misbehavin’, which opens at Hattiloo this week, is, perhaps, the best of the lot. Or, at least the most fun. It’s a simply imagined musical revue for five performers, built around Waller’s best known songs — “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Your Feet’s Too Big,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” and “T’aint Nobody’s Business (If I Do),” to name only a few. Waller was famously affable and able to get his musicians so deep into the good-timing spirit of his songs they could record them in one take. That joy and its accompanying lust for life billows through Ain’t Misbehavin like reefer smoke in a crowded nightclub.
Seating at the Hattiloo doesn’t provide a lot of legroom. Thankfully, the center aisle is wide, because this is music that makes you move, whether you want to or not. -- Chris Davis