Talk about going out with a bang. When Brendan Murray leaves the OTTC (Oxfordshire Touring Theatre Company) this year, it won't be by directing a thought-provoking tragedy or a happy family stage show - no, this will be the all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza that he has been working up to all his life.

Ain't Misbehavin' - The Fats Waller Musical Show is his idea. Brendan has been entranced by the revue since first seeing it on stage in the West End in 1979. And ever since then, he has harboured a secret urge to direct it himself.

And now's his chance. The tribute to the black musicians of the 1920s and 1930s will be touring Oxfordshire's village halls with the Oxfordshire Touring Theatre Company after kicking off at The Pegasus on Wednesday. And with a cast that includes some top West End names, expect to be dazzled.

"It's not something you can manage every year, but once every five years it's good to push the boat out," Brendan explains. "And yes we've got some great names performing, but they love the show too," he smiles.

"Every other year we try to do something new in the spring and Ain't Misbehavin' ties in nicely with our aim to do something more musical. But I didn't expect everyone to agree when I suggested it," he said roaring with laughter. "I just wanted to do something that would raise the roof in the village halls. Because sometimes you want to make people think and other times you want them to sing and dance and this is definitely foot-tapping stuff."

But because this is a musical and not a play, OTTC is certainly exploring new territory here.

So how did it manage to tempt the big London stage names down? "I don't know. I wondered why they'd leave the bright lights for the village halls of Oxfordshire. But they want to work, they love the show and they love our musical director," Brendan replies.

As a result OTTC can now boast Sharon Wattis from The Lion King, Nigel Philips of Miss Saigon and Simone Sauphanor of Carmen Jones as three of their five singers.

Even so, with five singers and a jazz trio on board, the OTTC numbers have already doubled, so it's still a huge undertaking for such a small company. "Yes, we are running the full gamut. But it's not about the life of Fats Waller, it's about the songs he wrote and made famous - a portrait of his art, if you like.

"And you can tell he was a funny guy through his songs, although there are some touching songs in there too that are real heart-wrenchers, mainly about racism which Fats Waller still experienced - even at the peak of his fame he was still being turned away from hotels.

"But, all in all, this is a feel-good show and everyone will enjoy it," Brendan promises.

Opening at The Pegasus on Wednesday and closing on April 12 at The Theatre Chipping Norton, in between the OTTC will be touring Oxfordshire and coming to a village hall near you.

For more information go to or telephone 01865 249444.

Fats Waller (1904-1943) learned to play the organ in church with his mother.

In 1927 he co-wrote a couple of tunes with his old piano teacher for a show Keep Shufflin'. Two years later he wrote the score for the Broadway hit Hot Chocolates.

Fats' most famous song, Ain't Misbehavin' was introduced in this show which featured Louis Armstrong.

Fats Waller's big break occurred at a party given by George Gershwin in 1934, where he sang and played piano.