Satchmo at the Waldorf October 5 - 21, 2018

By Terry Teachout


Satchmo at the Waldorf is an extraordinary one-man, three-character play that journeys into the heart and mind of New Orleans’ beloved jazz legend, Louis Armstrong. In March 1971, backstage at the Empire Room of New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the greatest trumpet player in the world sits in his dressing room trying to pull himself together to do one final show. Because as long as they clap, Satchmo will go out there and play. His mind wanders through the amazing journey of his life and his complex relationship with his manager Joe Glaser. In a tour de force performance, one actor journeys into the mind and heart of an American musical genius and the man behind the legend.

"The biography, Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong was praised by the New York Times as "eloquent and important" and chosen by the Washington Post as one of the ten best books of 2009. Satchmo at the Waldorf is Terry Teachout's first play. Teachout was the first Armstrong biographer to have access to 650 reel-to-reel tapes made by the trumpeter during the last quarter century of his life, many of which contain astonishingly candid recordings of his private after hours conversations. These tapes served as the inspiration for much of the dialogue in Satchmo at the Waldorf, in which the offstage Louis Armstrong-raw, frank, and uncensored is revealed for the first time." --

TheaterPLUS events during the run of Satchmo at the Waldorf:

Recommended ages 12 and up for strong language.



Featuring Barry Shabaka Henley

Equally riveting on the big screen, small screen or on stage, veteran actor Barry Shabaka Henley draws from a rich history of acting in many high profile films, television shows and theatre productions. Over the past 25 years, Henley has amassed an impressive amount of film and television credits. He has starred in the big budget hits including "The Terminal", "Rush Hour", "Patch Adams", "How Stella Got her Grove Back" "Bulworth" and “Carrie”. Henley has been honored to have director/producer Michael Mann cast him in several projects such as including his films "Ali", "Collateral" and "Miami Vice". He recently co-starred in Jim Jarmusch's "Paterson" which was in Official Competition at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.  He next appears in “A Star Is Born” with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

Henley’s numerous television credits include starring roles on “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Crossing Jordan,” “Providence,” “ER,” “Body of Proof,” “Veep,” and “Shameless” well as a recurring role on the series’ “Close to Home,” “NYPD Blue,” and “Flashforward.” He was a series regular on Showtime’s “Barbershop” and worked with Michael Mann as a series regular on “Robbery Homicide Division” and was featured in a recurring role on Mann’s HBO series “Luck” starring Dustin Hoffman. Recent appearances include "Better Call Saul", "NCIS: New Orleans", "Black-ish"  and a recurring role on “Bosch”.

Henley has toured extensively with the theatre production of “Jitney” and was a featured player in “Richard II,” “Waiting for Godot” and “As You Like It.” He won a NAACP Image Award for his work in “Rabbit Foot.” Henley was the writer and star of "Mingus Remixed" which premiered at the Lorraine Hansberry Theater in San Francisco. Henley has appeared in other productions of "Satchmo at The Waldorf" at the Court Theater in Chicago and Palm Beach Dramaworks. 

Born in New Orleans, Henley currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.


  • Written by: Terry Teachout
  • Directed by: Maxwell Williams
  • Set Design: Hannah Lax
  • Lighting Designer: Joshua Courtney
  • Costume Designer: Laura Faye Sirkin-Brown
  • Sound Design: Matt Jackson
  • Stage Manager: Joey Vreeland
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Katie Bandit
  • Audio Engineer: Jamie Doyle
  • Light Board Programmer: Mandi Wood
  • Light Board Operator: Tova Steele


"Clearly, Henley’s performance and the brilliant direction by Williams mark this as a show not to miss. It kicks off what might be one of the strongest seasons for the area’s oldest community theater."

-- Alan Smason, WYES for

"Thoughtful 'Satchmo' wrestles with jazz icon's life and legacy"

-- Brad Rhines, The New Orleans Advocate

"Henley's remarkable performance gets to the greater truths that created one of the 20th century's greatest artists. It also is a show not to be missed."

-- Theodore P. Mahne, NOLA.COM

"This is an opportunity NOT to be missed by fans of music, theatre, or life for that matter! Henley's performance was riveting from the start..." 

--Angelle Albright, BroadwayWorld

INTERVIEW: Barry Shabaka Henley with Diane Mack on WWNO for 'Inside the Arts'

INTERVIEW: Barry Shabake Henley on WWOZ with Sally Young (this link is only active until October 11, 2018)

SEASON PREVIEW: Ted Mahne from


Barry Shabaka Henley as Louis Armstrong. Photo credit: Brittney Werner.