I was beat to the socks after I got back to New York from Houston, and I’m only just starting to pull myself together a week later. Nevertheless, I’m feeling good about the Alley Theatre’s production of Satchmo at the Waldorf, which I stepped in to direct at the last possible minute. It was a fearfully hard row to hoe—I said yes to the Alley seven days before the first rehearsal, with next to no time to prepare—but everything came together wonderfully well, and I ended up having a ball.
Needless to say, it made a huge difference that I was working with Jerome Preston Bates, who’s giving the performance of a lifetime in the triple role of Louis Armstrong, Joe Glaser, and Miles Davis. I couldn’t have asked for a finer colleague, or for a more splendid team of collaborators than Kevin Adams, John Gromada, Lee Savage, and Ilona Somogyi, the design team for the off-Broadway production, with whom I had the privilege of working again in Houston. As for the Alley’s own staff, they welcomed me into their professional home so graciously that I felt it to be my own.
I wish I could say that I enjoyed the rest of my stay, but I was so busy working on Satchmo that I didn’t see much more of Houston than the theater, my hotel, a couple of restaurants, my newborn niece, and the University of Houston, where I spent a happy evening speaking to an enthusiastic group of theater majors. All I can tell you is that I liked everybody I met, and that I look forward to returning at the earliest possible opportunity.
What I can definitely say is that directing Satchmo again was the thrill of a lifetime. The response to my production was overwhelmingly favorable, enough so to make me think, as I did after my previous staging of Satchmo opened two years ago in West Palm Beach, that I might just have a knack for stage directing. True or not, I know that I want to do it again as soon as possible, and that I want to direct a play by someone else next time—and yes, I have one or two in mind!
We’ll see what, if anything, happens. For now, though, I’m more than content to read the nightly stage management reports from the Alley Theatre and revel in my still-fresh memories of my unexpected adventure in Houston. I’m a lucky guy.
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The Alley Theatre’s promotional video for Satchmo at the Waldorf: