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Visiting director has local roots

Roger Welch, director of Stumptown Stages’ upcoming production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” has a local-boy-makes-good story all his own. He is a graduate of Milwaukie High School who has been involved in the

theater community in New York City on and off for 18 years, and has numerous directing credits to his name from theater groups around the country.

Welch met Kirk Mouser,

executive artistic director of Stumptown Stages, when both were waiters at the Rheinlander German Restaurant in

Portland.

Welch lives in New York, but his family still lives in Milwaukie, so he considers Portland his second home. This will be the fourth show he has directed at Stumptown.

What audiences will like best about “Ain’t Misbehavin’” is the stellar cast, Welch says, calling them the “dream team.”

He adds, “This show is infectious, funny and thoroughly entertaining — you’ll be wanting more.”

The only local performer in the cast is Stumptown’s Associate Artistic Director Julianne R. Johnson-Weiss, who was unavailable for an interview.

But the other four cast members were only too happy to talk about “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

Describing her character as sassy, yet vulnerable, Deidra Grace says hers is one of the more emotional characters in the show.

Audiences will like the show, because “it comes from a real and open place, and we have put our hearts into it,” she says.

Monte Howell says his character is “the essence of Fats Waller. He’s larger than life and fun loving.”

The show has “a ton of high energy and creativity,” and his favorite moment is the opening number, titled, unsurprisingly, “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

“The viper” is the best way Terence Kelley has of describing his character, adding, “he’s a killer-diller of a guy and the slick hipster of the group.”

His favorite musical moment in the show is the “Jitterbug Waltz,” saying, “I can dive in and swim around in that number, and it is a beautiful piece melodically.”

Shanelle Leonard is the third female in the show, and she says her character is “fun, flirty, energetic and battling to prove herself.”

Audiences will respond to the humor in the show, but more importantly, she adds, “it will make them think.”