Teachout, who is also the author of a biography on Armstrong, describes the piece as "a work of fiction freely based on fact." It's set at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the actual site of Satchmo's last gig, and takes place in his dressing room following a performance. As Armstrong talks into a tape recorder about his eventful life, he reveals the complex man behind the unpretentious public persona. Central to the play is his relationship with Joe Glaser, his white manager; and the derision he faced from a segment of the black community, embodied in the person of Miles Davis, for "kissing up to the white man" with his familiar grin and ever-present hankie. One actor plays all three roles.
Satchmo at the Waldorf
stars Barry Shabaka Henley, who previously appeared in a Chicago production of the play. Scenic design is by Michael Amico, costume design is by Erin Amico, lighting design is by Kirk Bookman, and sound design is by Matt Corey.
is the drama critic of The Wall Street Journal, the critic-at-large of Commentary, and the author of "Sightings," a biweekly column for the Thursday Journal about the arts in America. He also writes about the arts on his blog, About Last Night. Satchmo at the Waldorf, his first play, premiered in 2011 in Orlando, Florida, and has since been produced off-Broadway and throughout the United States. Teachout's latest book is Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. His previous books include Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine, and The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken. He has also written the libretti for three operas by Paul Moravec: The Letter (premiered by the Santa Fe Opera in 2009), Danse Russe (premiered by Philadelphia's Center City Opera Theater in 2011), and The King's Man (premiered by Kentucky Opera in 2013). A graduate of William Jewell College, Teachout played jazz bass professionally in Kansas City before becoming a full-time writer. He lives with his wife, Hilary, in New York City and Connecticut.