The idea was tantalizing to Allenda Jenkins.
But she knew that putting together the right cast to perform the challenging jazz musical revue, “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” would be no small feat.
“I always loved this musical and wanted to do this for a while,” Jenkins said. “A lot of it was finding the right pieces.”
The pieces Jenkins assembled will be on stage this week as “Ain’t Misbehavin’” opens at the Whidbey Playhouse Friday night in Oak Harbor.
The off-season production, inspired by the music of Thomas “Fats” Waller, will be the first show to feature an all-black cast in Whidbey Playhouse history, according to Jenkins.
“I didn’t set out to do an all-black production,” said Jenkins, who is both director and cast member of the musical as well as president of the Whidbey Playhouse. “It just turned out that way. It was an open casting to whoever wanted to audition. Then (afterward), I said, ‘Wait a minute, we’ve got something here.’ This way, I could even spin it as a first. And this is Black History Month.”
Jenkins, who grew up in Oak Harbor, also sees the show as a gift to the community. She smiles widely when she talks about the musical that is highly acclaimed and a tribute to black musicians who were part of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s and 30s.
“Ain’t Misbehavin’” got its name from 1929 song written by Waller.
“It’s extra special,” Jenkins said. “It’s something just to pass on to the community. A gift of something unique, something different. We are here. We’re part of the community so let’s celebrate this little treasure that we have.
“This show is a Tony-award winning show on Broadway. It’s a really good piece of work. I kind of see it as a gift. I grew up here, went away and studied, went to Los Angeles, came down the coast and came back. The timing and the people just aligned at the right time for us to do it.”
The musical revue runs until March 17 at the Whidbey Playhouse then will be performed March 22-30 at Outcast Productions in Langley.
The five-person cast that Jenkins assembled consists of three actors from Oak Harbor, one from Langley and another from Sedro-Woolley.
The show will mark the acting debut of Joseph Glasgow, 25, who is stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Glasgow’s wife, Anjelica Glasgow, is an experienced actor of community theater who also is part of the cast. She asked her husband to audition for the performance once he returned from an 11-month deployment.
“I told her I would, half-heartedly,” Joseph said with a laugh. “I finally came in and did audition. When I did it was kind of cool. The positive feedback was empowering.”
Jenkins had heard Anjelica sing the praises of her husband for months, then finally heard for herself.
“All along she kept telling me, ‘You’ve got to meet Joey. Joey can do this,’” Jenkins said. “Joe was deployed a good portion of the time that I knew her. When Joey came back and came to audition, I was like ‘Anjelica, you were right. I needed to meet Joey.’ This wasn’t just pride in her husband. He really is good.”
Also performing in “Ain’t Misbehavin’” is veteran actress Germaine Kornegay, who lives Sedro-Woolley and is originally from Philadelphia. Jenkins met Kornegay during the production of “Hair Spray” in Mount Vernon.
But the cast still wasn’t complete. Jenkins said the final piece was landing Anthony Caldwell, an actor from Langley who’s performed at Outcast Productions.
“People said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to meet this guy. You’ve got to meet this guy,’” Jenkins said. “So we went down and met him. That’s how we all came together.
“I think we’ve got the right mix.”
Jamar Jenkins joins his wife on the show as the musical director.
The musical revue is a high-energy event featuring 32 songs from group numbers, duets, trios and solos.
“It’s like an evening at the club,” Allenda Jenkins said. “If you had come to the Cotton Club this would be these show that you would see. So we’re there at the club, performers at the club, partying at the club.
“With this show, it’s all about having fun and having a good time. And just throwing it all out in the wind and letting it rip and roll. That’s the outlook that Fats had on life. That’s what we want to bring. Let’s have a good time.”
Get your tickets
Tickets for “Ain’t Misbehavin’ are now available at the box office, 730 S.E. Midway Blvd., in Oak Harbor or by calling 360-679-2237. The show opens March 1 and runs through March 17 at the Whidbey Playhouse. Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees begin at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $14. There are special discounts for military and groups of 10 or more.
“Ain’t Misbehavin’” resumes at Outcast Productions in Langley from March 22-30.