June 15 - July 2, 2005

2005 Season



Associate Producer
General Manager
Artistic Director
Company Manager
Production Stage Manager
Production Coordinator
Costume Coordinator
Lighting Design
Costume Design

Musical Direction by

Directed and Choreographed by


Thomas “Fats” Waller

Harlem Renaissance

“One never knows,
do one?”
- Thomas “Fats” Waller

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Ain't Misbehavin'




South Shore Press

Dan's Papers

1930s Harlem lives on in this rollicking, swinging, finger-snapping revue that is still considered one of Broadway’s best. The inimitable Thomas “Fats” Waller rose to international fame during the Golden Age of the Cotton Club, honky tonk dives, and that jumpin’ new beat, Swing. AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ evokes the delightful humor and infectious energy of this American original as a versatile cast struts, strums and sings the songs he made famous. Sometimes sassy, sometimes sultry, AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ is simply unforgettable.

(in alphabetical order)



DEUNDRE C. JAMES (u/s Men): DJ is no stranger to the Gateway stage, having performed in Kiss Me Kate, On the Town, The Holiday Spectacular, and Cabaret, as well as Evita earlier this season. DJ recently Asst. Choreographed the Nat’l Tour of My One and Only. A graduate of the University of Houston with a BFA in Theatre, DJ is also an alumnus of Anne Reinking’s Broadway Theatre Project (’99-’00). Many thanks to his family and friends back in Texas for their love and support. God Bless & Amor’.

KECIA LEWIS (NaTasha cover) is excited to make her debut here at Gateway after a successful run at Lincoln Center this past spring in Dessa Rose as Dorcas (Drama Desk Nomination). Broadway: Once on this Island (Asaka, original Broadway cast), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (standby for Nell and Armelia), Big River (Alice), The Gospel at Colonus with Morgan Freeman, Dreamgirls (Effie White). Off-Broadway: From the Mississippi Delta, To Whom It May Concern. Regional favorites: Polk County (Big Sweet), Raisin (Ruth), Smokey Joe’s Café (BJ), The Sound of Music (Mother Abbess), The King and I (Lady Thiang). Television: “Kate Brasher,” “The Hughley’s,” “Law & Order.” Kecia has also recorded two independent contemporary gospel CDs, Someone’s Gotta Say It and WWW.

WAYNE W. PRETLOW is pleased to return to Gateway, where he was seen as Big Moe in Five Guys Named Moe. Some of his professional credits include: Broadway: The Civil War, A Christmas Carol, St. Louis Women, Golden-Boy and House Of Flowers. Regional Stage: Tick in The Great White Hope, Marcelus Washburn in The Music Man and Big Moe in Five Guys Named Moe. Most recent theatrical performance: world premieres of Run Away Home, written by Javon Johnson at Studio Theater, Bobby in Memphis and Whistle Down The Wind by Andrew Lloyd Webber, directed by Hal Prince. Concert performances: Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Film and television credits include “Next Stop Wonderland”, “Law & Order” and “Law and Order SVU”, “The Sopranos”, as well as many national television commercials. Award Nominations: 2000 Helen Hayes Award. A.E.A member and gives thanks to his Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

LAQUET SHARNELL is proudly making her Gateway Playhouse debut. A graduate of the Performing Arts HS in Dallas, TX, she attended North Carolina School of the Arts. She originated the role of Carolyn in Princesses, A New Musical at the Goodspeed Opera House and recently performed in Nights on Broadway III at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City. Other: Plano Repertory Theatre: A Chorus Line (Bebe), Six Flags over Texas and Mary Kay Industrials. Additional training: Broadway Theatre Project, Jacob’s Pillow Dance and NYCDA. LaQuet is a proud AEA member and she would like to thank her “Manager Mom”, Dr. Linda James and all her “angels” along the way for their undying love and support.

ANDRÉ WARD is happy to be returning to Gateway, having appeared in Ragtime, and Swing previously. Other credits include: Saturday Night Fever (Original Broadway Company), The Apple Tree (City Center Encores!), The Producers, Dreamgirls and Cinderella (National Tours), Ragtime (Chicago company), Kept (Theatreworks, Palo Alto), Lucky Duck (Old Globe) and the pre-Broadway workshop of The Wedding Singer. André made his Cabaret Debut this year with Sideshow lyricist, Bill Russell. André would like to thank his family, friends and Nicolosi & Co. for their support.

AURELIA WILLIAMS is very excited to return to Gateway Playhouse for the third time! Previously, you may have seen her in Smokey Joe’s Café or Ragtime. Some of her other credits include: Off-Broadway: They Wrote That? The songs of Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, Pirates of Penzance, and Reading Rainbow. Regional: Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Pittsburgh Public Theatre), Seussical the Musical (Fulton Opera House), Nunsense (Media Performing Arts Center), and Jungle Book (Theatreworks USA). International: Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Harlem Gospel Choir. Following this production she will be featured in the off-Broadway hit Menopause the Musical as “Power Woman.” She would like to thank her friends and family for their constant love and support.

NaTASHA YVETTE WILLIAMS is thrilled to make her Gateway debut in Ain’t Misbehavin’. Other selected credits include: Off-Broadway: Dessa Rose (Lincoln Center). National Tours: Seussical (Sour Kangaroo), Cinderella (Grace), The Goodbye Girl (Mrs. Crosby), Sing Mahalia (Mahalia), Miss Ida B. Wells (Ida B), Parade (Ensemble). Selected regional credits: Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Armelia), Papermill Nell (Ecu), Boesman and Lena (Lena), Dreamgirls (Effie), Little Shop of Horrors (Ronnette), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Narrator), Steal Away (Blue), I Could Stop on a Dime (Center Stage and Cleveland Playhouse). TV: “One Life to Live,” “Life Sessions at Studio 54.” NaTasha recently won the Kraft Foods New Voice of Gospel contest and has a fabulous CD at her website (www.NaTashaYvetteWilliams.com).

PAUL ALLAN (Producer). Paul has been involved in theatre since before he can remember. In the early days he spent his summers following around his grandfather who had his hands full trying to make ends meet—running a theatre in the 60’s. Paul grew up at Gateway, looking forward to each summer and being able to do more each year. By the time he was a teenager he was an integral part of the back stage crew and was the self-appointed handy man as well. In the 80’s as a young Gateway producer, Paul spent part of the winter months working in NY on many off-Broadway shows serving as technical supervisor/production manager. At the same time he co-founded a touring company whose shows traveled throughout the US and other countries worldwide. The set rental company was also founded at this time and Gateway scenery is constantly being trucked to various theatres across the country. The main focus, though, is still the productions produces here for our patrons—and this season begins with his 150th! Paul wishes to dedicate this season to his father whose presence is constantly felt as he continues to inspire and guide him—as he did while he was still here.

BOB DURKIN (Director/Choreographer) Bob’s work has been represented both nationally and internationally in tours of Big River, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Dreamgirls, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Anything Goes, Purlie, The Goodbye Girl, One Mo’ Time, Little Shop of Horrors, They’re Playing Our Song, Hello Dolly, Crazy for You, and Ain’t Misbehavin’. In 1997 he was the recipient of the Connecticut Critic’s Circle award for outstanding choreography for his work on the national tour of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. He was Tommy Tune’s co-choreographer for the pre-Broadway workshops of Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade, starring Tommy Tune and Sandy Duncan, in both Sydney, Australia and in New York City. He has also worked many years with the late Broadway director Phillip Oesterman. Bob’s work has been seen by audiences in Brazil, Columbia, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Scotland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, all over the United States and in Canada. Bob is a graduate of The Boston Conservatory of Music. In addition, Mr. Durkin has been associated with West Point Military Academy, Alabama University Birmingham, West Virginia University, Oklahoma City University, Marymount Manhattan College, Wagner College, and the University of Vermont as a guest artist and teacher.

WILLIAM A. KNOWLES (Musical Director) hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a 2005 Helen Hayes Award Nominee for Outstanding Musical Direction (Tambourines to Glory). He won the award in 2001 for the show Dinah Was. Other shows Knowles has musically directed include: All Night Strut, Play On, Blues in the Night, Slam, Jazz, Royalty, and King of Cool.

ROBIN JOY ALLAN (Casting and Artistic Director) has been the Casting Director at Gateway for the last ten years. Previous to moving back home, she was the Associate Casting Director on the feature films; Parenthood, When Harry Met Sally, Lord of the Flies, Side Out and Ghost. She also cast several television series, pilots and MOW’s, whilst in Los Angeles for five years. Along with her Artistic and Casting Director duties, she is the force behind Gateway’s Acting School Division, where she teaches the advanced classes. Her best friend is her daughter Hayley who teaches her every day. Music, her great passion, was infused into her soul by her parents. She devotes any creativity she is able to conjure up this year, to her father, Stanley Allan, who always listened and heard her voice.

KIM HANSON (Lighting Designer). A veteran of many Gateway Productions (Anything Goes, Singing in the Rain, Camelot, Gypsy, Groucho, Peter Pan, Smoky Joe’s Café, Annie Get Your Gun, and his first show at Gateway the unforgettable Baby), Kim is glad to be back for this production of Ain’t Misbehavin’. Some National and International Tours he has designed include, A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, Sophisticated Ladies, Song and Dance, and Evita. Kim has been resident designer for Chen and Dancers, and The New American Ballet Ensemble and has provided lighting and production management for various artists such as Ray Charles, Barbara Cook, Gregory Hines, Bobby Short, Chita Rivera, Tommy Tune, Robert LaFosse, and Darci Kistler. He is especially pleased to be reunited with Bob Durkin again having first worked with him on the 1991 Gateway Production of Ain’t Misbehavin’.

STEPHEN HOLLENBECK (Costume Designer). This award-winning costume designer joined the Costume World team in 2002. For over a decade, he was the Costume Designer for the Indianapolis Civic Theatre where he won the prestigious Encord Award. His award-winning designs include Oklahoma, Pippin, and My Fair Lady. His designs for Into the Woods won state, regional, and national awards and Stephen was thrilled to be able to tour Japan with this production. Since joining Costume World, Stephen has designed Crazy For You and George M! for Candlewood Productions, Cinderella and Forum for the Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre, Ragtime for Musical Theatre Southwest, and for Gateway Cabaret, Miss Saigon and The King and I. He is pleased to once again be working with the Gateway Playhouse.

ERIN KRAUS (Production Stage Manager) is thrilled to be back at the Gateway Playhouse for her sixth season. She spent this past winter as a production assistant for Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular and as an Assistant Stage Manager at the Actor’s Studio Drama School. Some of her favorite credits include The Will Rogers Follies, Gypsy, and Cabaret. Erin would like to thank everyone at the Gateway playhouse, especially Paul and Stanley, for all their support. She would also like to thank Mom, Dad, and Brigid for their love and inspiration. Erin would like to dedicate these performances to Mom, the strongest woman she knows.



Conductor/Keyboard - William A. Knowles
Reeds - Bob Carten
Drums - Jimmy "June Bug" Jackson
Trombone - James Burton
Bass - George Sessum
Trumpet - Alvin Trask

Fats Waller: Three Hundred Pounds of Jam, Jive, ‘n’ Everything

Thomas “Fats” Waller was born in Harlem in 1904, the son of a lay preacher and a church organist.  When he was six, he began learning the piano, eventually playing the organ at the Abyssinian Baptist Church and singing in the choir.  He was a gifted musician, able to play bass and violin as well, and as a reward for performing piano with his school orchestra, his father took him to Carnegie Hall to see Igor Stravinsky.

In his early teens his mother’s health began to fail and the family moved to a smaller apartment, selling his piano.  Fats delivered bootleg liquor to pay for music lessons, which took him to unsavory parts of New York causing problems with his parents.  When his mother died, Fats went to live with pianist Russell Brooks – who would introduce him to James P. Johnson, the creator of the “stride” piano style Fats would later perfect.  He began to support himself as a musician, playing for rent parties (when Harlem tenants would raise rent money by throwing a party with a 25 cent admission), accompanying silent movies at the Lincoln Theatre, backing up vaudeville acts, and recording rolls for player pianos.  

Fats was incredibly prolific, writing dozens of songs and three Broadway shows, including Hot Chocolates , which starred Louis Armstrong and introduced the song “Ain’t Misbehavin’”. He began developing his own unique style, using his early upbringing to pioneer the use of pipe organ and Hammond organ in jazz.  In 1929 he cut “Handful Of Keys”, a virtuoso solo recording that embodied the ultimate in stride piano technique.  

Fats had begun his recording career in 1922 but with the Great Depression, the recording industry declined.  The following year his first wife, Edith Hatchet, divorced him because he was never home, despite the birth of their son Thomas Waller Jr.  Fats took his act to radio and shortly became a superstar.  His biggest recording break occurred in 1934 when he played and sang at a private party given by George Gershwin.  His inimitable manner of dazzling keyboard artistry, larger-than-life personality and tossed-off humorous asides so impressed a Victor Recordings executive that he arranged a contract for Fats and his sextet Rhythm, an arrangement that lasted until Fats’ death.  Around this time he met his second wife, Anita Rutherford, with whom he would have two more sons.  

A trip to Europe resulted in recordings of his solo piano piece “London Suite”, and some delicate duets with singer Adelaide Hall, as well as more typical Waller-esque swing numbers with a band he called Continental Rhythm.  Fats also appeared in several films (notably Stormy Weather opposite Lena Horne and Cab Calloway) and toured nightclubs throughout the US.  Despite his success, he ran out of money faster than he earned it, and often sold his songs for a pittance to make some fast cash.

His enormous appetites for food and alcohol, a punishing schedule, and a turbulent personal life that involved stretches in jail for failure to pay Edith alimony, began to take its toll on him.  He promised to slow down and spend more time with his family, but after an arduous West Coast tour he died of pneumonia on the train back to New York where he had intended to spend Christmas.  He was just 39 years old.  His Harlem funeral was attended by more than 4200 people and conducted by Dr. Adam Clayton Powell who remarked, “Fats always did play to packed houses.”  Waller’s legacy endures in the ageless songs he wrote, and in the musicians he continues to influence.

Harlem Renaissance

A generation after the end of the Civil War, the nation’s greatest migration of African Americans headed north, leaving the agrarian South and its KKK lynch mobs for the promise of better jobs and decent wages in the industrial cities of the North, like New York.  In 1911, attracted by low rents from a collapsed real estate market, Black churches and social institutions began moving uptown to Harlem. In addition to southerners fleeing the intolerant South, immigrants poured in from the West Indies and Africa and by 1930 more than two-thirds of New York’s Black population was living in Harlem. Tensions ran high between North and South, foreign v. native born, and organizations like UNIA and the NAACP were founded to unify the community.

This attempt at unification created a crucible in which Black artists, encouraged to embrace their diverse heritages, learned from each other’s cultures and forged Harlem’s unique creative style.  Writers like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, artists like Aaron Douglas and Laura Waring, and musicians like Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller and Bessie Smith drew international fame to themselves and their neighborhood.  Whites, curious to see what all the fuss was about, made their way to Harlem nightclubs where they were welcome to sit at interracial tables to see and hear the greatest musical acts of the time.  Europeans were passionate for American jazz, and couldn’t get enough of the likes of Duke Ellington and Ethel Waters.

In 1930, the first musical with an all-Black cast, The Green Pastures , opened on Broadway.   The next few years were the height of Harlem Renaissance, seeing the publication of enduring classics like Their Eyes Were Watching God , the opening of the Apollo Theatre, and the first performance of Porgy And Bess – all of which are still enjoyed today.