Tony Award-nominee De Shields (The Wiz, The Full Monty, Play On!, Ain't Misbehavin') stars in the new work, which offers a five-piece band on stage and such signature Armstrong songs as "Hello, Dolly!," "Mack the Knife" and "What a Wonderful World."
An actress will play the women in Armstrong's life. Official opening is March 1.
De Shields is fresh out of the new musical, Let Me Sing!, which played George Street Playhouse and Charlotte Repertory Theatre.
The new Armstrong show is written by De Shields and James P. Mirrione and "explores Armstrong's celebrity as an international ambassador and his controversial role as a cultural icon, set against the turbulent backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement."
Choreography is by Mercedes Ellington, who choreographed Broadway's Play On! Musical director is Terry Waldo, working with the musicians who recreate the "hot five" sound of Armstrong's career. The show is produced in association with the Helen Hayes Theater in Nyack, NY, where it will play following Philly. Tickets are $20-$40. For information, call (215) 569-9700 or visit www.princemusictheater.org.
A tour of a cabaret show called Satchmo played dates in 2002, according to BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com. That show was billed as paying tribute to Armstrong: "From 'Ain't Misbehavin'' to 'Georgia on My Mind' to 'Basin Street' to 'What a Wonderful World,' Satchmo brings back the joy, the swing, the life and times of the legendary and beloved Louis Armstrong."