Satchmo at the Waldorf

By Terry Teachout | Directed by Eleanor Holdridge | Starring Craig Wallace
At the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lang Theatre
August 25—October 2, 2016
By Terry Teachout
Directed by Eleanor Holdridge
EXTENDED! Must close October 2

It’s March 1971 at the Waldorf Astoria, and Louis Armstrong has just played one of the final performances of his extraordinary career. Unwinding backstage, the legendary ‘Satchmo’ recounts the events—and regrets—that led him to a place of stature in danger of being stripped away. Helmed by Eleanor Holdridge and starring DC-favorite Craig Wallace, this one-man, three-character powerhouse play with music dives into the complicated relationships between Armstrong, his embattled Jewish manager Joe Glaser, and his fiercest competitor and critic, trumpeter Miles Davis.


“Fascinating…seamless, and full of surprises” (Chicago Sun Times), Satchmo at the Waldorf is an uplifting play about the price of success, the birth of jazz, and the soul of Satchmo—as you’ve never heard it before!

Run Time: 80 minutes, no intermission

This play contains profanity and mature themes, and is not recommended for patrons under the age of 14.

Box Office

Atlas Performing Arts Center

1333 H Street NE

Washington, DC 20002

Box Office

202-399-7993 ext 2

Box Office Hours

M-Sat: 10:30am-5:30pm

Sun: 10:30am-1:30pm

Box office does NOT take calls two hours prior to a show's curtain, but will return all voice messages left during that time.

Will Call opens one hour prior to curtain.

Patrons who arrive late will be seated at the discretion of management.


Thur Aug 25 at 8PM | Post show discussion with artistic staff
Fri Aug 26 at 8PM | Post show discussion with artistic staff
Sat Aug 27 at 8PM
Sun Aug 28 at 3PM
Thur Sept 1 at 8PM | Post show discussion
Fri Sept 2 at 8PMHappy Hour at 7pm
Sat Sept 3 at 3PM | Post show discussion
Sat Sept 3 at 8PM


Sun Sept 4 at 3PM | Post show discussion
Thur Sept 8 at 8PM | Cast Talkback
Fri Sept 9 at 8PM | Happy Hour at 7pm
Sat Sept 10 at 3PM 
Sat Sept 10 at 8PM | Post show discussion
Sun Sept 11 at 3PM | Post show discussion; captioned performance
Sun Sept 11 at 7:30PM | Post show discussion; captioned performance
Thur Sept 15 at 11AM | Post show discussion with the cast
Thur Sept 15 at 8PM | Post show discussion; captioned Performance
Fri Sept 16 at 8PM
Sat Sept 17 at 3PM | Post show discussion; H Street Festival*
Sat Sept 17 at 8PM
Sun Sept 18 at 3PM | Post show discussion with the cast
Wed Sept 21 at 8PM | Post show discussion
Thur Sept 22 at 8PM Post show discussion
Fri Sept 23 at 8PM | Post show discussion
Sat Sept 24 at 3PM | Peace Café
Sat Sept 24 at 8PM Post show discussion

Sun Sept 25 at 3PM | Post show discussion
Wed Sept 28 at 8PM 

Thur Sept 30 at 8PM | Post show discussion

Fri Sept 30 at 8PM 

Sat Oct 1 at 3PM | Post show discussion

Sat Oct 1 at 8PM 

Sun Oct 2 at 3PM 

*Please note, parking during the H Street Festival will be very restricted. We recommend patrons attending take Uber or Lyft to get to the theater for the Saturday, September 17 matinee.

Special Post-Show Event: Race & Identity Discussion, led by Richael Faithful and Shari Motro 

RSVP today to participate in this special, 75-minute workshop following Satchmo at the Waldorf at 3pm on September 25. Then catch Mosaic's workshop presentation of The Black Jew Thing at 7pm.

RSVP below to the free workshop, or click here to learn more.

Reva & David Logan Foundation
Community Engagement Events
All discussions are free and open to the public,
and begin immediately after scheduled show time.
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Background & Dramaturgy
Satchmo at the Waldorf is about the Louis Armstrong you don't know. Explore the dramaturgy to meet the man behind the legend.

September 6, 2016

WRITING THE BIOGRAPHY of a performing artist is like standing in the wings to watch a play. You see what the public sees, only from a different perspective. Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, my 2009 biography of the greatest jazz musician of the twentieth century, is about the joyous entertainer who sang “Hello, Dolly!” and “What a Wonderful World” and made millions of people feel warm inside—but i...

September 6, 2016

FROM Henry V to Amadeus, most plays about historical figures are more or less fictionalized—usually more. So is Satchmo at the Waldorf. I’ve never claimed that it’s anything other than, as the script says, “a work of fiction, freely based on fact.” If you want to know which parts are true and which are made up, all you have to do is consult Pops, my 2009 biography of Louis Armstrong. If it’s in th...

August 17, 2016

‪#‎LouisArmstrong‬’s musical ‪#‎career‬ began when he fired his step-father’s gun in the air during a New Year’s Eve ‪#‎celebration‬ in 1912 and was arrested and sent to the Colored Waif's Home for Boys. There he received ‪#‎musical‬ instruction and realized that he had a natural ‪#‎talent‬ for playing the cornet. By the time he was released from the home in 1914, he had realized that his life’s c...

August 16, 2016

#LouisArmstrong spoke up again about #CivilRights issues in #America. In 1965, after police attacked #peaceful marchers in #Selma, Ala., Armstrong told an interviewer that while he did not actively participate in parades or give long speeches, he contributed to the civil rights movement with money. "They would beat #Jesus if he was black and marched. Maybe I'm not in the front line, but I support...

August 15, 2016

#LouisArmstrong was long silent publicly on race issues, something that angered some of his #African-American fans.

Then, in 1957, angry #segregationists and the #Arkansas National Guard tried to prevent nine black students from entering a Little Rock high school. Armstrong told the media, "The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell!" He also criticized pop...

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Scenes from First Rehearsal

From the Artistic Director

"I’ve had my eye on this play since it first opened at the Wilma Theatre, and then Off-Broadway, and I wanted it to be Mosaic’s first offering when we opened 10 months ago – but we opted for opening big in a different way (14 actors and and epic set in Rwanda), and then with 3 Middle East Solo Shows in the first season, SATCHMO got assigned to Season Two. But it’s really been at the heart of who we are from the start; the conflict, the confluence of characters in deep and complicated relationship with each other.


This is a play about music and business; about core identity and a larger American Success Ethos. It’s about generational difference. It’s about friendship and betrayal. It’s about pain and perseverance beyond a million dollar smile and a multi-million dollar selling song. It’s a play about relationships, real and invented...


History shows us that the relationship between minority cultures in times of trial and legal distress, or within the realm of cultural production and mass consumption can be as strained as they are enlightened.  The complicated dynamic between African Americans and American Jews seems like its woven into the fabric of Mosaic Theater Company, but in fact this is the very first time the issue has been dramatized on our stage.  And yet it resonates with our core identity; with our composition as a staff, board and audience.  The fusion of communities we so often speak about here at Mosaic finds its articulation in the troubled relationship between Joe and Louis.  This is not a relationship to espouse but it is one worthy of examination; of what can go wrong on the road to doing right.


We’re doing this play in conjunction with a month’s worth of discussion on Race and the entertainment industry, along with the roll out of a new workshop series: Stacey Rose & Alexis Spiegel’s brutally-honest THE BLACK JEW THING, under the direction of Logan Vaughn (represented later this season with A Human Being Died That Night), which runs September 25-26.  The workshop explores a radically feminist perspective on what we’ll see play out in this very male world of Jazz in just a moment. We can't wait to share both plays with you - and talk about them well into the night!"