Jubilee Gets Jazzy with "Lil and Satchmo"
Reposted from Jubilee Theatre.
Jubilee Theatre is about to take North Texas into a dimension of time where the grandest of jazz music, unconditional love and recognition of a rich and brilliant slice of Black history intersect. “Lil and Satchmo,” brings a high-energy and festive musical and love story, featuring the lives of prolific jazz pianist, songwriter and vocalist Lil Harden Armstrong and the jazz icon she helped make: the historic Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong.
“Lil and Satchmo,” written by Jo Morello and directed by Khira Hailey, opens January 28 and runs through February 24 at the theatre in downtown Fort Worth as part of the theatre’s 41st season lineup.
Based on real-life accounts, the stage play introduces and unveils the incredible Lil “Hot Miss Lil,” “Swing Queen” Harden Armstrong. It further tells about her longtime relationship with world renowned trumpet player Louie Armstrong, all while showcasing the sounds of dozens of the most vintage and historic jazz classics the 20th century ever produced.
No one dares to argue about Louis Armstrong’s iconic stature, unanimously considered the Grand Emperor of Jazz, a distinction he maintained for no less than five decades, starting in the Roaring Twenties and continuing until his death in 1971.
Significantly, “Lil and Satchmo” does what history has failed to do: equally chronicle the fascinating achievements of Lil, who became the second of Louie’s four wives. Lil mentored and managed Louie, as well as wrote music for him, toward guiding Louie to make the right decisions that elevated him to stardom.
Sadly, personality clashes, infidelity and sour business dealings put a deep rift in their blissful yet painful relationship, resulting in a separation, then divorce and legal battles. The two went on their separate glittering and successful lives with Louie marrying two more times.
Yet, the burning flame for each other never really flickered out, remaining strong and full-hearted over the years.
The play opens up with Lil playing “St. Louis Blues” at a concert in Chicago, part of a tribute to Louis, who died seven weeks earlier. An ethereal of Louie appears, which only Lil can see. Together, they take a musical trip down Memory Lane, down to the play’s final scene.
Does Louie sweep Lil off her feet, even after death?
The audience gets taken back in time with the performing of classic jazz tunes, including “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “The Charleston,” “Hello Ma Baby,” “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home,” “St. Louis Blues,” “Lil and Louis Tango” and others that were made famous by other epic jazz artists like Joe “King” Oliver and His Creole Jazz Band, Jelly Roll Morton, W.C. Handy, Buddy Bolden and more.
“... the heartwarming and heartbreaking story of Lil Hardin Armstrong, a dominant force behind the success of her world famous husband, trumpeter Louis Armstrong ... so relevant to our world today as even now women struggle for the right to have their work recognized and rewarded,” said Broadway World.
“I am ecstatic to be back at Jubilee with such astonishing people! It is an honor to share this amazing space yet again with such a wonderful cast and crew under phenomenal direction!” said Sydney Hewitt, who plays Lil Harden Armstrong. She reunites with director Hailey from Jubilee’s production of “How I Got Over,” in 2020. Hewitt also had roles in “Pooled,” “The Ballad of Jane Elkins” and “Color Us Black.”
Davian Jackson plays “Satchmo.” He was last seen at Jubilee in “Southern Boys” and also performed in “Pooled” and “Fabulation.”
“Lil and Satchmo” is Jo Morello’s fourth stage play production about historic music figures. In 2011, she brought to Dallas “The Crash at Crush,” featuring the music of historic ragtime artist Scott Joplin. Other works include “E.G.O.: The Passions of Eugene Gladstone O’Neill,” and “The Fabulous Mrs. Palmer.” Morello is a multi-award-winning playwright, who’s works also include “Life Upon The Wicked Stage,” “A Haunted Life” and “Ma, Moonflowers and Me.”
Director Khira Hailey brings her keen theater-directing touch to the Jubilee Theatre production, as she had done with “How I Got Over” in 2020. She has directed several productions in theaters throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
Dameron Growe serves as “Lil and Satchmo’s” Music Director. The ensemble cast includes, Jason Hallman, Kris Black Jasper, Ron Johnson and Crystal Williams.
Jubilee Theatre continues their Season 41 run into the spring and summer of 2022 with “Over 40,” “If Pretty Hurts Then Ugly Must Be a ****” and “Dreamgirls.”
Jubilee Theatre is located at 506 Main St. in downtown Fort Worth. For tickets and showtimes, visit www.jubileetheatre.org or call 817-338-4411.
Location Mentioned: Jubilee Theatre