James Monroe Iglehart, center, as Louis Armstrong at company in A Wonderful World (Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel)
On Oct. 12, 2023, a night filled with the sweet sounds of jazz and the magic of storytelling, the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago played host to A Wonderful World, a production that masterfully interwove history, music and captivating performances.
At the heart of this theatrical marvel was James Monroe Iglehart, whose portrayal of Louis Armstrong was masterful, capturing not only the iconic musician’s raspy voice and infectious charisma but also his heart and soul. From the first trumpet notes to the final poignant moments, Inglehart carried the audience on a journey through the life of a musical genius.Iglehart’s vocal prowess was nothing short of astounding. His renditions of Armstrong’s classics were filled with a depth of emotion that resonated through the theater. Whether belting out an exuberant “What a Wonderful World” or crooning a soulful ballad, Inglehart demonstrated a rare ability to connect with the audience on a profound level. It was as if Louis Armstrong himself had taken the stage.
The production’s unique perspective added an extra layer of intrigue. Told from the vantage point of Armstrong’s four wives, the narrative provided a fresh and intimate insight into the complexities of his personal life. This approach humanized the larger-than-life figure, revealing his vulnerabilities, struggles, and triumphs in love and relationships. It was a masterstroke, allowing the audience to see the man behind the legend.The supporting cast was equally praiseworthy, seamlessly weaving together the threads of Armstrong’s story. Each wife brought a distinct perspective and dynamic to the narrative, contributing to a rich tapestry of emotions. The chemistry between Inglehart and the ensemble was electric, elevating the authenticity of the relationships portrayed on stage.
The music, a tribute to Armstrong’s enduring legacy, was a character in its own right. The carefully curated selection of songs showcased the breadth and depth of his influence on American music. From the lively rhythms of Dixieland jazz to the soulful strains of blues, each note reverberated with a profound sense of history and artistry.
The set design and staging were a visual feast, seamlessly transitioning between eras and settings. From the smoky clubs of New Orleans to the grand stages of international fame, the production transported the audience through time and place. The lighting design, too, played a crucial role in creating atmosphere, enhancing the emotional impact of key moments.
A Wonderful World at the Cadillac Palace Theatre was a triumph of storytelling and musical artistry. James Monroe Iglehart embodies the jazz legend with mesmerizing authenticity in a performance that transcends time and space. This production stands as a fitting tribute to Louis Armstrong’s enduring impact on the world of music and culture.
A Wonderful World is running through Oct. 29, 2023, at the Cadillac Palace Theater in Chicago. Buy tickets here.
Source: Rolling Out