The Mosaic Theatre Company’s production of Satchmo at the Waldorf closed yesterday afternoon in Washington, D.C. It’s always bittersweet when a show comes to the end of its run, but this particular closing has a special meaning for me: it’s the first time in nearly a year that Satchmo isn’t running, in rehearsal, or in the works somewhere in America. I flew out to Chicago last December to help get Charles Newell’s Court Theatre production underway, and since then Satchmo has been performed in Chicago, San Francisco, Portsmouth, Colorado Springs, West Palm Beach, Sacramento, Washington, and Baton Rouge. I saw four of those stagings and directed one of them, but there are now three Louis Armstrongs, Jahi Kearse, Spencer Howard, and Lawrence E. Street, who have done the play without me. Like a first-born son gone off to college, Satchmo has left me behind and is now making its way in the world.
The world, it seems, isn’t done with Satchmo, at least not quite yet. Triangle Productions of Portland, Oregon, will be opening its production, the last of the 2016-17 season and the fifteenth to date, on February 2. As for 2017-18, I’ve already received an inquiry from a theater company seeking to obtain rights to the show for next season. And I even have a Satchmo-related personal appearance coming up: John Douglas Thompson and I will be speaking about Satchmo next Wednesday at New York’s Drama Book Shop, Inc.
Nevertheless, I know it’s time to start frying other fish. I’m already hard at work on my second play, about which much more later, and I’ve been talking to a regional theater company about directing another play, this one written by somebody else. As for my day job at The Wall Street Journal, it’s shifted into the high gear of a brand-new season: I saw three shows in New York last week and will be reviewing them for the Journal this week and next.
And what about Satchmo? Well, I’ve been thinking of late about my favorite scene from Bull Durham:
INT. THE DUGOUT
NUKE PUTS ON HIS WARMUP JACKET and sits down next to Crash Davis, who’s taking off his gear, readying to hit.
NUKE I was great, eh?
CRASH Your fastball was up and your curveball was hanging—in the Show they woulda ripped you.
NUKE Can’t you let me enjoy the moment?
CRASH The moment’s over.
So it is, and I’m preparing to move on to the next one, whatever and wherever it may turn out to be. But I sure have enjoyed the moment that just came to an end, as much as I’ve ever enjoyed anything in my professional life. And no matter how many more moments lay ahead of me in the years that lie ahead, I very much doubt that any of them, however exciting they are, will be quite like this one.
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John Douglas Thompson and I will be talking about and signing copies of Satchmo at the Waldorf at the Drama Book Shop, Inc., 250 W. 40th St., next Wednesday, October 12, at five p.m. For more information, go here.