Burns & Murray Review “Satchmo at the Waldorf” at Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]
by Gail Burns and Larry Murray. For the Berkshire-Capital region’s most comprehensive listing of theatre offerings visit GailSez.org.
Larry Murray: Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong was born in 1901 and played the trumpet just about all his life, right up until the day he died in 1971. For most of us, myself included, his playing was about all we knew about him. He could blow a hundred high C’s in a row, a feat few have ever been able to duplicate to this day. He was the first truly popular African-American entertainer who was able to “cross over” and ended his career with few black fans and millions of white ones. Yet his life as a person is very little known.
Gail Burns: Playwright and critic Terry Teachout listened to hundreds of hours of tapes that Armstrong made in his dressing rooms over his last years and penned what many consider the definitive biography Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong (2010).
Larry: And he used that book as the basis of this play – Satchmo at the Waldorf – to cobble together in 90 minutes a very personal and emotional recounting of his youth, his long career and his final years where his trust for his manager Joe Glaser was betrayed, his peers dismissed him as an Uncle Tom and yet his music continued to be as popular as ever.