The first public preview of the off-Broadway production of Satchmo at the Waldorf takes place on Saturday night at the Westside Theatre. The posters are already up in the lobby, and I’ll be flying back to New York on Thursday to take part in the final rehearsals. I’m told by my colleagues that the show is in excellent shape, but it’s the public that has the last word, and five days from now they’ll be speaking it for the first time.
SATCHMO%20FRONT-OF-HOUSE%20PHOTO.JPGHow do I feel? A bit distracted, sometimes mildly queasy, but mostly pretty calm. This is, after all, the fifth staging of Satchmo to hit the boards since the play was premiered in Orlando three years ago. Of course we’ve yet to do it in New York, but while the stakes are higher this time around, the experience is pretty much the same–so far.
Perhaps I’ll feel differently come Saturday, or on March 4, our official opening night. Perhaps I’ll be vomiting backstage, the way Moss Hart always did before a show of his opened. “I have been sick in the men’s room every opening night of a play of mine in theatres all over the country,” he confessed in Act One, his autobiography. That strikes me as highly unlikely–I can’t remember the last time I threw up–but the fact that my first play is about to be produced in New York is even less likely, so you never know.
In any case, I’m not really excited yet, though I’m sure I will be by week’s end. What I am is ready. I’m ready to find out how New Yorkers respond to Satchmo at the Waldorf, and to make whatever changes seem justified by their response. To be sure, I’m not expecting to do anything drastic to the script, but once again, you never know.
Mainly, though, I just want to see the curtain go up (figuratively speaking–we don’t have one). I started working on Satchmo in 2010. I don’t know whether it’s as good as it can be, but four years later, I suspect it’s just about as good as I can make it. The rest will be up to John Douglas Thompson and Gordon Edelstein–and to you. Come see what we’ve wrought, and cheer if you feel like it. I hope you do.

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