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Ain’t Misbehavin'... they're saving all their love for us (at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival)

Aint Misbehavin.jpg
Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Gerry McIntyre, Tyrick Wiltez Jones
Gerry McIntyre (upper right) directs, and Tyrick Wiltez Jones (lower right) co-stars in the Idaho Shakespeare Festival production of Ain't Misbehavin'.

You’ll quickly run out of words to describe Gerry McIntyre: Actor/singer/dancer/choreographer/director … you get the idea.

He also likes to trip the light fantastic with words. In describing the Tony-winning musical Ain’t Misbehavin’, McIntyre said “It’s lean and mean. It’s all fats all the time.”

"Lean" and "fats"? Stay on your toes when chatting with Gerry McIntyre. Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a celebration of the genius that was Fats Waller and the Harlem Renaissance. McIntyre is directing a quintet of performers that will light up the Idaho Shakespeare Festival for the next several weeks.

And just before the show opens, McIntyre joined Broadway veteran Tyrick Wiltez Jones to visit with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about all of the wonderfulness that they'll be bringing to the ISF amphitheater.

“I just love the piece. It’s the best musical revue ever.”

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning, I'm George Prentice. We know Gerry McIntyre from the touchstone musical Once on this Island, Chicago, and Joseph and the Dreamcoat. He's a much-sought- after director and choreographer in the nation's best theatrical companies. We know Tyrick Wiltez Jones for his Broadway appearances in Hairspray and Finian's Rainbow , plus national tours of Fosse, Showboat and Miss Saigon. They and their colleagues bring us Ain't Misbehavin to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, and it will run through July 9th. Let's say good morning to Gerry and Tyrick. Good morning, gentlemen.

TYRICK WILTEZ JONES: Good morning.

GERRY MCINTYRE: Good morning.

PRENTICE: Gerry, can you talk about the need for a director to bring something to a legacy show… to add something to it?

MCINTYRE: Haha. I love that question. I've done the show before, I've directed and choreographed it before and I find that every time I do it that it's always new because of the people, the five people. So that event of getting these five people together is always different. But the chemistry and the singing and you know, it's there. I do a different set it on the people who are in the room. I don't set it like This is My Ain't Misbehavin and this is what every time I'll do it, I'll do the same choreography, I'll do the same staging. I always change it up because the people are different. And that's what makes it more interesting for me because I really I mean, I just love the piece. I think it's the best musical revue ever. It just celebrates the music of Fats Waller. Like one of my non favorite musicals is like, Mamma Mia, because it's all that book is around. But the book to me is a little clunky, but this, it's so lean. It's all Fats all the time. It's lean and mean. I just adore it.

PRENTICE: I love the fact…”It's so lean. It's all Fat’s all the time.”

MCINTYRE: Yes, t shirts for everybody.

PRENTICE: Tyrick, let's talk about that. The rehearsals, I know they've got to be intense for a show like this and all that it requires of you. Can you talk about that energy that is pent up and just waiting to explode when you open a show?

JONES: I think we're all very excited learning. I mean, you know, this music, this the jazz, the blues element of it, the close harmony, it's when it's right, it's right. It's so good. And physically being able to dance and seeing to this music, celebrating the Harlem Renaissance and those black musicians, I believe we're all very excited for opening. And I, having experienced a little bit of the Idaho audience, I think the energy they're going to bring is just only going to excite us even more.

PRENTICE: Gerry, I had Murray Horwitz on the show yesterday, and we talked a lot about Ain't Misbehavin through the 45 years. And I want to read you something that he told me yesterday: “I keep pinching myself that now, 45 years later, people still find value in it. It's the same reason that it was a hit in 1978, and that is Fats Waller. There's just an irresistible, sophisticated humanity.”

MCINTYRE: That is fantastic and true. It's so wild to me. I was in college, but I just remember going into the theater with one of my college friends and we didn't kind of know what was going on. But after that first act, we looked at each other like, what? What what is going on here? It's so it was so wild. And the audience was there was such a fervor. And then I just remembered black and blue in the second act. And that's all I can remember for that whole evening, because, you know, you're taking that lovely journey and everybody's having a good time and laughing and just all of a sudden it takes that sharp right turn. And I just held on to my friend Joe, to my right, and we just held hands during that whole number. We couldn't breathe at all. And then at the end of the show, the audience jumped to their feet. Jumped to their feet, which is another thing that I hadn't seen in the theater. So I was like, Hey, wait, what did why didn't they tell me about this? It was so electric and fascinating to me. You know what? I also got to do it a couple of times, too, which is also a great journey. I was I was ten and I was Andre. So, I mean, I think I've lived the most behave and adventure a lot.

PRENTICE: Tyrick, the songs are great…right? You're singing something, and you can raise an eyebrow and then there are at least three more jokes inside the one song that you just sang.

JONES: Yes, most definitely. And with Gerry's direction, four more jokes.

MCINTYRE: I like to put a hat on a hat.

PRENTICE: And Ain't Misbehavin? It's a canard. He sings and he's surrounded by his selection of paramours. And they know he's lying… and he knows he's lying. And they know… and she knows and she knows and he knows.

MCINTYRE: I love it and I just telling them, “You know, what the joke is? It's like Pearl Bailey.” And thank God they know who she is.

JONES: A light bulb.

PRENTICE: Tyrick, you've traveled in national companies and international companies. Can you talk about meeting… and getting different energies and different vibes from different audiences…and you're always looking for that different wave to serve?

JONES: It is most definitely. I, of course I prefer a lively audience. I don't mind people talking back to me, so I'm hoping that I get that kind of energy, you know, in Idaho. But like when you perform, I remember when I was doing Fosse in Japan and they are listening, right? So after each number they barely clap. And you think they don't like you like that's how you just feel like, oh, nothing is landing. But then at the end they go crazy. Wow. You know, and it's completely different. And in Germany we had to add, I believe we add it like three encore. So like bowels because they will just go on for hours. They will keep you until the next day, you know. So it's always different. But like I definitely prefer like when people are lively from the beginning, but I respect the way the Japanese, the way they respect theater and the way we the way they treat it. They also give you a lot of gifts in Japan.

PRENTICE: Don’t they bring you gifts to the stage door and your hotel?

JONES: Really nice gifts. It's very nice. Hey, I need to go back to Japan.

PRENTICE: Well, not just yet. Gerry, I love the fact that Tyrick brought up Bob Fosse.  Can you talk about your connection and about seeing that legendary TV commercial the first of its kind – of Bob Fosse’s Pippin, and how it changed your life?

MCINTYRE: Well, I was sitting at home in East Orange, New Jersey, and I was having one of a TV dinner, which I remember well, a TV dinner. It was fried chicken and it was mashed potatoes, you know, the Swanson TV dinners. And my mother was at work. She she was a nurse and I'm watching TV. And then I hear. Dum dum dum dum dum dum. And I'm looking at this thing and I'm like, my head is cocked. I'm like, What on earth is that? I had no idea about it. I looked at it and then I saw Ben Vereen and my life changed because he's one of my idols and mentors. And it was so odd because I couldn't explain it to my mother when she got home and my sister was there with me and she's four years. I mean, she's like, she didn't even, like, pick your head up from eating at the TV dinner. I was so mesmerized, and it literally changed my life because I knew that from that moment that that's what I wanted to do. And then I got to do Chicago and understudy Ben Vereen.And life just it was just I couldn't believe my life. I'm like, who the hell planned this? Because this was not supposed to happen in real life. You know, you see something, you go, Oh, that guy is amazing and I want to be him. And then all of a sudden it's like you're signing in to go to work every night and you watch him perform because Chicago would sit in the alley and I watched him work every night. And guess what? I never got to go on for him because he never missed a show, which was which was fine with me. I was not like, I need to go on, but but I was there every night watching him. So it was just life changing. And his soul and energy is just it's just it's infectious. And he calls me, he's like, How are you today, my king? Can you believe that? Can you believe Ben Vereen? First of all, can you believe Ben for a reason, my friend? It's all so. I didn't know how I got to be me.

PRENTICE: Well, Tyrick… it’s my understanding that Gerry is the king of Broadway, right?

JONES: There you go.

PRENTICE: Gerry, do you have do you have the keys to every door in Manhattan?

MCINTYRE: If only.

JONES: He knows how to get them.

MCINTYRE: Yes, I know people who have them.

PRENTICE: Okay. Well, the sun goes down. The lights come up on Ain't Misbehavin in the amphitheater of Idaho Shakespeare Festival. It runs through July 9th. They are Gerry McIntire and Tyrick Wiltez Jones. Gentlemen, great good luck. Have a great run and bless you for bringing Eight Misbehavin to Idaho.

JONES: Thank you.

MCINTYRE: So much. And I hope I see you there.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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