IN FOCUS Lifestyle: "A Wonderful World" Broadway musical opens big on Miami Beach
Updated: Dec 16, 2021
Click the screen below to watch the show highlighting why this musical is a
winner and enjoy all the opening night fun on South Beach
After a splashy red carpet and interviews at the step and repeat, the Colony theater may have an instant classic on its stage. Miami New Drama Artistic Director Michel Hausmann, Managing Director Nicholas Richberg, in association with Thomas E. Rodgers Jr., presented the world premiere production A Wonderful World, a new musical based on the life and songs of jazz legend and American icon Louis Armstrong.
The production plays at the Colony Theatre (1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL.) until January 16, with opening night set for December 11. Drama Desk Award-winner and Tony Award-nominee, Christopher Renshaw (Broadway’s Taboo, The King and I), will direct the production, which will be choreographed by Rickey Tripp (associate choreographer for Broadway’s Once on This Island and Choir Boy).
With an original book by Aurin Squire, the multi-talented playwright and television writer (“This is Us,” “The Good Fight,” “Evil” and Miami New Drama’s Seven Deadly Sins) and Opa-locka, FL. native, A Wonderful World features songs recorded and made popular by Armstrong, arranged and orchestrated by Annastasia Victory (Broadway’s Caroline or Change, Once on This Island) and Michael O. Mitchell (Broadway’s MJ the Musical, Motown the Musical).
"This is the first musical about Louis Armstrong, one of the great jazz pioneers" said Nicole Henry, a co-star in the musical. "Theater is vital to the quality of life our residents love and need" said Tony C. Lesesne of LMG Entertainment. "Having Aurin Squire (pictured below) back home to showcase his work is amazing and inspiring" he added.
Told from the perspective of the women in Armstrong’s life, A Wonderful World charts Armstrong’s journey from the birth of jazz in his native New Orleans through his international stardom. The musical also focuses on the complex history of race in America, leading up to the Civil Rights era.
"We had just started previews with this show when the world changed," commented Michel Hausmann. "I mean that in terms of both the worldwide pandemic and the events following the death of George Floyd that hastened the conversations we have been having about racial inequality. A Wonderful World in fact explores our country's complicated history with race through the life and experiences of America's greatest jazz performer, Louis Armstrong, and delves into many of the issues that still haunt us today."
The production stars Juson Williams as Louis Armstrong (pictured below), Nicole Henry as Alpha Smith, Darlene Hope as Lucille Wilson, Christina Sajous as Daisy Parker, Allison Semmes as Lil Harden with Gavin Gregory as King Joe Oliver, Stephen G. Anthony as Joe Glaser, Jason Holley as Lincoln Perry and Daniel Barrettas Johnny Collins.
The award-winning design team features scenic design by Adam Koch, projection design by Steven Royal, costume design by Ari Fulton, lighting design by Cory Pattak, sound design by Kai Harada, prop design by Jameelah Bailey and Stephanie Debrecht. Casting is by Stewart/Whitley, CSA. Ruth E. Kramer serves as stage manager with Alejandro Rodriguez as associate director, James Tuuao as assistant director and Aurelia Michael as associate choreographer.
"We have a bit of history with Nicole Henry" said Lesesne. "She is a class act and an amazing songbird that represents the best in jazz." Since her debut, Nicole Henry (pictured at right) has established herself among the jazz world's most acclaimed performers, possessing a potent combination of dynamic vocal abilities, impeccable phrasing, and powerful emotional resonance.
She has earned a Soul Train Award for “Best Traditional Jazz Performance," and three Top-10 U.S. Billboard and HMV Japan jazz albums. Ms. Henry tells real stories through peerless interpretations of repertoire from the American Songbook, classic and contemporary jazz, popular standards, blues and originals, all of which she performs and connects with people on many levels.