Terry Teachout's Louis Armstrong Play Satchmo at the Waldorf Extends Long Wharf Run

By Adam Hetrick
and Kenneth Jones
October 16, 2012

The Long Wharf Theatre staging of the one-man Louis Armstrong play Satchmo at the Waldorf, starring John Douglas Thompson, has extended its run an additional four performances through Nov. 11 in New Haven, CT.



The 90-minute production began performances at the Long Wharf Oct. 3. It was originally scheduled to close Nov. 4. 

Long Wharf Theatre artistic director Gordon Edelstein directs OBIE Award-winning actor Thompson in dual roles as Louis Armstrong and his manager Joe Glaser. Following the Long Wharf run, Satchmo at the Waldorf will play Philadelphia's Wilma Theater Nov. 16-Dec. 2. Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires of Massachusetts premiered the play in August.

The play by Teachout, a critic, biographer and playwright, is "set backstage at the Empire Room of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in March 1971," when Armstrong, the greatest trumpet player in the world, "sits in his dressing room trying to pull himself together following his celebrated performance." According to Wilma notes, "His mind wanders through the amazing journey of his life and his complex relationship with his manager Joe Glaser."

Thompson starred in the Wilma staging of Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, which won him a Barrymore Award in 2004. He recently appeared at the Goodman Theatre in The Iceman Cometh. He played Richard III at Shakespeare & Co. in 2010, and won his OBIE for his portrayal of Othello in a 2009 production at Theater for a New Audience (later reprised for S&Co).

This is Teachout's first play. He's better known as the drama critic for The Wall Street Journal. Satchmo at the Waldorf is billed by Teachout as "a work of fiction, but it is based on and informed by the facts of the lives of Armstrong and Glaser, and though and I made up most of the dialogue, it closely resembles the way they talked in private."

In earlier production notes, Teachout, author of the 2009 biography "Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong," said, "Between 1947 and his death in 1971, Armstrong taped hundred of after-hours conversations with his wife, friends, and colleagues in which he revealed a very different side of his personality. Some of these tapes are startlingly intimate, and many of them contain very strong language that Armstrong never used on stage."

The production team includes costume designer Ilona Somogyi, stage managers Diane Healy & Hope Rose Kelly, set designer Lee Savage, lighting designer Matthew Adelson, sound designer John Gromada, sound designer/board operator Mike Pfeiffer and light board operators Derek Bever & C. Clara Patterson.

For tickets visit LongWharf.org. The Long Wharf Theatre is located at 222 Sargent Drive in New Haven, CT.