Best Show You Can Chew Over (2000)

The Great Caruso Dinner Theater

Spero Criezis, producer of The Great Caruso, seems hell-bent on yanking the quaintly dated idea of dinner theater into the 21st century. And with his production of Ain't Misbehavin', the Fats Waller Musical Show, the man just might succeed. The tiny Caruso stage, built into a snooty strip center in far west Houston, looks like some sort of throwback to the Old West. Dining tables crowd the tiny gilded room; there's even a dark spiraling staircase that leads to an ornate mahogany-framed balcony. This ostentatious setting is perfect for the hair-raising tunes that Fats Waller wrote. And Criezis's cast is full of kitteny women and brawny men with big gorgeous voices who know how to love up these astonishing songs. Everything from badly behaving lovers to the opiate dreaminess of reefer gets a moment on stage. And all the while, the audience can sip wine and digest the old-style artery-hardening prime rib. The show is worth every bite.


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