After a decades-long career, Cynthia Thomas only got close to performing in her home turf when she did a production of “Once on This Island” at UConn in Storrs.
Thomas is one of five singers in the revival of the musical revue “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “ now playing at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre through Nov. 20.
Thomas grew up in Bethany and New Haven and attended New Haven’s Educational Center for the Arts where she first started with an interest in dance. But a few musical theater classes changed her focus. “I thought, ‘I can do this. This is fun,’ she says.
After graduating from Amity Senior High School — and a one year stint in liberal arts education at Alberta Magnus College — she headed to Boston to study the musical arts, thanks to the morale and financial support of her grandfather William Johnson. Then she was off to New York for a stint at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy before launching her own career. That had her traveling the country in such regional theater shows as “Casper: the Musical,” “The Music Man,” “South Pacific,” “Memphis” and “Hairspray.”
She first became involved with “Ain’t Misbehavin’” in the mid ’80s when she became dance captain for the show under Arthur Faria, the revue’s choreographer and director of musical staging. Then she started performing in the show as well, playing at one point or another all three of the women’s roles. She has also been Faria’s assistant in the restaging of the show at various theaters around the country since 2006. She remembers being in a touring production of the show that starred The Pointer Sisters. (“That was a first class production where we toured everywhere” she says.)
“This is very much the original production,” she says of the New haven show, “where it’s back to the basics.”
“Opening night was a little nerve-wracking,” says Thomas. “I was so excited [about playing in New Haven] and it was just wonderful.” She says her mother has already seen the show five times since it opened last week. Since then many old friends and family members have come to see her. She’s not too nervous about that, though. “I can’t see beyond the first few rows anyway,” she laughs.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun