WaterTower Theatre Presents Satchmo at the Waldorf

WaterTower Theatre is in the middle of its 28th season. WaterTower Theatre was founded in 1996 and is one of the state’s most recognized professional theatre companies. The theatre has won numerous awards for its productions and for its contribution to the world of arts and entertainment. According to WaterTower’s website, entering the 2023-2024 season, “WTT will have produced 196 plays and musicals, including 12 World Premieres and 44 Regional Premieres.”

WaterTower Theatre Presents Satchmo at the WaldorfFor its third production of this season, WaterTower Theatre is presenting Satchmo at The Waldorf. For jazz lovers, this is a great play about one of the genre’s most famous musicians. The play will be presented on the Terry Martin Main Stage from April 17th through the 28th at the Addison Theatre Centre. For those unfamiliar with the name ‘Satchmo’, it is the nickname of the world-famous and influential jazz trumpeter, Louis Armstrong. According to the Louis Armstrong House Museum, “Louis had many nicknames as a child, all of which referred to the size of his mouth: “Gatemouth,” “Dippermouth,” and “Satchelmouth.” During a visit to Great Britain, Louis was met by Percy Brooks, the editor of Melody Maker magazine, who greeted him by saying, “Hello, Satchmo!” (He inadvertently contracted “Satchelmouth” into “Satchmo.”) Louis loved the new name and adopted it as his own. It provides the title to Louis’s second autobiography, is inscribed on at least two of Louis’s trumpets, and is on Louis’s stationery.”

Satchmo at The Waldorf is a production written by Terry Teachout and Directed by Feleceia Wilson. The production according to WaterTower Theatre’s website is “A one-man, three-character play in which the same actor portrays Louis Armstrong, the greatest of all jazz trumpeters; Joe Glaser, his white manager; and Miles Davis, who admired Armstrong’s playing but disliked his onstage manner. It takes place in 1971 in a dressing room backstage at the Empire Room of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where Armstrong performed in public for the last time. just four months before his death.”

The play stars Sam Henderson playing the three characters of Louis Armstrong, his manager Joe Glaser, and Miles Davis. According to the press release by WaterTower Theatre, “It takes place in 1971 in a dressing room backstage at the Empire Room of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where Armstrong performed in public for the last time. just four months before his death. Reminiscing into a tape recorder about his life and work, Armstrong seeks to come to terms with his longstanding relationship with Glaser, whom he once loved like a father but now believes to have betrayed him, and Davis’ criticisms of him as a fellow artist.”

According to his bio, Sam Henderson is an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Film at Baylor University. In 2023, Sam was selected by the Provost as one of 10 Baylor Fellows, a recognition of Professors across the disciplinary spectrum who exemplify excellence in teaching He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from Baylor University and his Master of Fine Arts in Acting from The Old Globe Professional Actor Training Program through the University of San Diego. At The Old Globe, Sam also wrote, directed, and performed his one-man show, The Man with the Horn, about the life of Miles Davis, as his thesis production.

For director Feleceia Wilson, this is her directorial debut at WaterTower Theatre. Felecia shared in the press release, “What excites me most about ‘Satchmo at the Waldorf’ is the opportunity to delve into the rich tapestry of Louis Armstrong’s dynamic life. His story mirrors the struggles and triumphs of black individuals navigating a world that often seeks to confine them to the margins. Armstrong’s rise to prominence is a testament to the brilliance and sacrifices of those who dare to defy expectations.” She continued, “My approach to ‘Satchmo at the Waldorf’ centers on honoring the authenticity of each character while exploring the intricate connections between them,” explains Wilson. “Through meticulous research, character analysis, and collaborative dialogue with the actor, we aim to craft a performance that captures the essence of Louis Armstrong, Joe Glaser, and Miles Davis with integrity and depth.”

The creative and production team includes Kae Styron as Set Designer, Hope Cox as Costume Designer, Christopher L Treviño as Lighting Designer, Ruby Pullum as Property Designer, David Lanza as Sound Designer, Lexi Solomon as the Equity Production Stage Manager, Devon Patch as Assistant Stage Manager, and Bobby Selah, as Sound Board Operator.

Satchmo at The Waldorf brings to life an important piece of history for those of us who love jazz music and of course, Louis Armstrong. contains adult topics and language and is recommended for ages 16 and above. WaterTower Theatre’s mission to “create innovative, diverse theatre that builds community by fostering empathy and dialogue” can certainly be found in this production which brings to life an important part of history for one of jazz’s most famous artists. For showtimes and to purchase tickets as well as to get more information about WaterTower Theatre, please visit their website, www.watertowertheatre.org

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