Louis Armstrong at the Waldorf
Forty-five years after jazz legend Louis Armstrong finished one of his last performances at the Waldorf Astoria, the Mosaic Theatre Company of D.C., recreates a legend's final production with a riveting one-man show.
"Satchmo at the Waldorf," heavily focuses on the gripping life and career of jazz icon Louis Armstrong and vividly recounts events and regrets that led the legend to a place of high celebrity, in danger of being snatched away.
Playwright for "Satchmo at the Waldorf," and longtime drama critic for The Wall Street Journal, Terry Teachout, recounts overall admiration toward Armstrong.
"Louis Armstrong was the greatest jazz musician of the twentieth century," he said.
"A phenomenally gifted and imaginative artist and an entertainer so irresistibly magnetic that he knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts four decades after he cut his first record. Offstage he was witty, introspective, and unexpectedly complex, a beloved colleague with an explosive temper whose larger-than-life personality was tougher and more sharp-edged than his worshiping fans ever realized. That's what Satchmo at the Waldorf is about—it's the story of the Louis Armstrong you don't know."
The play does a wonderful job of delving into the world and mind of Armstrong, illustrating a story of both praise and criticism that Satchmo faced for his role in the Civil Rights Movement and exhausts his fascinating relationship with his Jewish manager Joe Glaser and his fiery blows with rival and jazz artist Miles Davis, all play by actor Craig Wallace.
Eleanor Holdridge, founder of the Red Heel Theatre Company and director of the one-man play, believed Craig Wallace to be a mastermind.
"I've known and admired Craig Wallace for almost 20 years, and I have always adored Louis Armstrong," she said.
"Craig's talent wedded to this stunning material is a truly remarkable opportunity and I jumped at the chance. Reading the play, a complex and brilliant man rises to the surface; Teachout brings a compelling human perspective to the turbulent decades in which the great man lived. It will be thrilling to work with Craig to bring all the nuances and ambitious arc of the play to life."
This D.C. premiere, originally debuting at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, in Orlando, Florida and later running Off-Broadway at Westside Theatre in 2014, comes complete with added deleted dialogue expressed between Armstrong and Miles Davis, who often strongly criticized Armstrong's "vulgar" performance style before white audiences.
In addition, Satchmo at the Waldorf, does a riveting job of exploring two big themes of race and inter-culturalism that examines the complex relationship between black Americans and American Jews in the entertainment industry and is an absolute must-see.