Thursday March 30th 2017

“Satchmo at the Waldorf” reviewed by Carol moore

Recommended **** I was absolutely fascinated watching Barry Shabaka Henley’s performance in the Court Theatre’s production of “Satchmo at the Waldorf”.  Although I was certainly aware of Louis Armstrong as a performer, I knew very little about him as a person.  Henley’s raspy-voiced portrayal made him real for me.  I give “Satchmo at the Waldorf” 4 Spotlights.

In his dressing room after a 1971 performance at the Waldorf, Louis Armstrong lets it all hang out, talking about anything and everything.  As he reminisced, he touched on topics as diverse as Bing Crosby and Civil Rights.  In his program notes, playwright Terry Teachout says something to the effect that Armstrong swore like a trooper and knew how to hold a grudge.  In fact, he was still holding a grudge against his long-time manager, Joe Glaser, even though Glaser had been dead since 1969.

The thing that made this a tour de force performance for Henley was the addition of Joe Glaser as the ‘villain’ of the piece.  The transformation was amazing.  His Satchmo had that famous gravelly voice while his Glaser had a perfect New York Jewish accent.  An aside: there’s an odd factoid – Glaser had a New York accent when he was actually from Chicago.satchmo2

Armstrong was angry and bitter about a lot of things, but particularly hurt that Glaser didn’t leave him any shares in the business which he’d helped Glaser start.  He tossed out a comment that he’d known Bing Crosby 40 years, but was never invited to his house.   He was angry about the way the black students in Little Rock had been treated.  He said he’d scolded then President Eisenhower for his hands-off attitude toward integration.  He was bitter because black audiences had abandoned him for rhythm and blues, but glad because he’d never lost his white audience, which is the reason he was able to play at the Waldorf.

satchmo3“Satchmo at the Waldorf” runs through February 14th at the Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago.  Running time is 90 minutes, no intermission.  Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm; Fridays at 8:00; Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00; Sundays at 2:30 and 7:30.  Tickets range from $45-$65.  Parking is free in the garage next door to the theater (you’ll have to take a ticket, but the gate will be up when you leave).  FYI (773) 753-4472 or www.courttheatre.org.

To see what others are saying, visitwww.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Satchmo at the Waldorf”.

Leave a Comment

ITEX.com

More from category

“Mother of Smoke” reviewed by Jacob Davis
“Mother of Smoke” reviewed by Jacob Davis

Now enjoying its new home at the Pride Arts Center in Uptown’s Buena Park, Red Tape Theatre has opened the venue’s [Read More]

“For the Love of (or, the Roller Derby Play)” reviewed by Carol Moore
“For the Love of (or, the Roller Derby Play)” reviewed by Carol Moore

  Highly Recommended **** Pride Films and Plays has done themselves proud – I know, I just couldn’t resist – [Read More]

“Born Yesterday”
“Born Yesterday”

★★★★★ Brilliant! That would be my definition if someone were to ask me to describe the current Remy Bumppo [Read More]

“By the Water”
“By the Water”

Highly Recommended **** If one has never been involved with a natural disaster, one can only imagine what goes through [Read More]

“Upright Grand”
“Upright Grand”

Highly Recommended ***** There are a great number of theater-lovers who are unaware of a special little treasure on the [Read More]