Theater of the American South's Backstage With Louis Armstrong | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

Theater of the American South's Backstage With Louis Armstrong 

Danny Mullen in Backstage With Louis Armstrong

Danny Mullen in Backstage With Louis Armstrong

As much as I'd like to say the same for Backstage With Louis Armstrong, this otherwise likable production needs some serious musical direction before it can truly be called ready for prime time.

Danny Mullen has clearly done the necessary research for this solo biographical show on the famed mid-century jazz trumpeter, vocalist and international ambassador of goodwill. On stage, Mullen's speaking voice is more than a fair match for the gruff-throated growl of the legendary jazzman.

Until, unfortunately, he starts singing. Yes, the performer has Satchmo's improbable, tricky phrasings down pat in song after song (even if his timing went off Sunday night toward the end of "C'est Si Bon").

But Mullen's vocal register is significantly lower than Armstrong's—and possibly a bit narrower as well. Prerecorded arrangements pitched too high for the performer forced him to sing awkward variations on the harmonies in most numbers, instead of the melodies. One exception: a notably soulful rendition of "Black and Blue."

Mullen tours us through Armstrong's career, leavening somber moments with earthy good humor. While some of the transitions—and biographical song cues—are cheesy, most of this ride is spent in good company.

But until a music director adapts the libretto to Mullen's vocal range,

Backstage is likely to remain an off-key tribute to a master musician.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Southern accents."

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater



Twitter Activity

Comments

Oh, I'd be amused even without the in-jokes. These folks are having a great time, and the setting is transportive. …

by needsomeokra on Wants Upon a Time Is a Commedia Dell'arte Interrogation of What Happily Ever After Really Means (Theater)

The photo credit is incorrect. The photo was taken and edited by Areon Mobasher for Burning Coal Theatre Company. Please …

by Areon Mobasher on The Greeks Streamlines Sophocles’s Theban Trilogy Into Three Nimble, Strikingly Modern One-Acts (Theater)

Most Recent Comments

Oh, I'd be amused even without the in-jokes. These folks are having a great time, and the setting is transportive. …

by needsomeokra on Wants Upon a Time Is a Commedia Dell'arte Interrogation of What Happily Ever After Really Means (Theater)

The photo credit is incorrect. The photo was taken and edited by Areon Mobasher for Burning Coal Theatre Company. Please …

by Areon Mobasher on The Greeks Streamlines Sophocles’s Theban Trilogy Into Three Nimble, Strikingly Modern One-Acts (Theater)

I'm wondering why Dorfman specifically chose the Death and the Maiden quartet - deriving from the song Der Tod und …

by trishmapow on Forgiving is not forgetting in Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden (Theater)

I'm not a theatergoer, so it was off my usual path to see this production. The small/ mighty cast approached …

by Aims Arches on A Superlative Adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Orlando Packs Centuries of Insight into a Fleet Eighty Minutes (Theater)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation