From New York City to Berkley, Calif., from New Orleans to Edinburgh, Scotland, actor and playwright Danny Mullen has brought Louis Armstrong to life onstage. Now he’s bringing his one-man show to the Ansonia Theatre.
In “A Tuff Shuffle — Backstage with Louis Armstrong,” Mullen portrays Satchmo backstage after a show. “After each concert, Louis Armstrong would be backstage greeting fans from all walks of life, … a motley crew, all there together in the dressing room,” says Mullen.
With his portrayal, Mullen aims to make the audience feel as if they’re sitting backstage with Armstrong himself. Danny Mullen has been fascinated with Louis Armstrong ever since he saw the music great on the Ed Sullivan show as a child. In junior high, he read about Armstrong’s recordings being sent into outer space with other earth artifacts on board a satellite, and he remembers hearing Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” in the movie “Good Morning, Vietnam” while he was in college. In 1990, Mullen read a biography of Armstrong, and his connection with the music great strengthened. In 2000, he wrote his one-man show “A Tuff Shuffle.”
“Louis Armstrong is jazz,” Mullen says, “and the history of jazz is the history of America.”
Born in New Orleans and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mullen earned a master’s degree in American Studies and taught public school in Buffalo, N.Y., acting in his spare time. He now lives in Charlotte, where he has taught middle school, then arts and history courses at Salisbury’s Livingstone College. He is currently teaching history at Charlotte’s University of Phoenix campus.
“A Tuff Shuffle — Backstage with Louis Armstrong” comes to the Ansonia on Jan. 26, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at the Arts Council, Lacy’s and the Anson County Chamber of Commerce. They are available online at www.ansoniatheatre.com.
Due to mature content, the show is not recommended for children.
Broadway producer Woodie King Jr. has said that “nobody can play Louis Armstrong like Danny Mullen.”
Don’t miss your chance to see why.