Jelly’s Last Jam Jelly’s Last Jam

Jelly’s Last Jam  | 

May 29 — June 23

When legendary musician Jelly Roll Morton’s soul is forced to face the music, the self-proclaimed “inventor of jazz” is left at the ultimate crossroads. Follow Jelly from the back alleys of New Orleans to the sparkling stages of New York, as his remarkable journey unfolds in a stunning display of song, dance, and music. With soulful melodies, electrifying tap dancing, and fiery tunes that will leave you breathless, get your groove on with this dazzling musical masterpiece.

“Makes the invention of jazz a miraculous, eruptive theatrical event.”

-New York Times

Book by George C. Wolfe

Music by Jelly Roll Morton

Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead

Musical Adaptation and Additional Music Composed By Luther Henderson




When legendary musician Jelly Roll Morton’s soul is forced to face the music, the self-proclaimed “inventor of jazz” is left at the ultimate crossroads. Follow Jelly from the back alleys of New Orleans to the sparkling stages of New York, as his remarkable journey unfolds in a stunning display of song, dance, and music. With soulful melodies, electrifying tap dancing, and fiery tunes that will leave you breathless, get your groove on with this dazzling musical masterpiece.

“Makes the invention of jazz a miraculous, eruptive theatrical event.”

-New York Times
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John Clarence Stewart

John Clarence Stewart

Jelly Roll Morton

John Clarence Stewart

John was most recently seen as Big Teak in the latest season of the hit show, P-Valley, written by Pulitzer Prize Winner Katori Hall. John was born and raised in Stone Mountain GA, and started his theater journey in the Atlanta theater community. He moved to NY after performing as Tray in the world premiere of brownsville song (b-side for tray) at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. John made his television debut on the series Gotham and The Mysteries of Laura. Since then he has played lead roles in notable shows such as NBC’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and What If…?, as well as Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix. This past year, John starred in a solo performance at 54 Below. BroadwayWorld called him, “the most authentic, the most genuine, the most sincere person an audience could ever hope to find on a stage.” This year, John debuted his self-written and performed one man show, Soft As It Began, in the Stripped Bare Arts incubator project with Synchronicity Theater in Atlanta.

Cress Williams

Cress Williams

Chimney Man

Cress Williams

Cress is best known for starring as DC’s title-character in The CW’s critically acclaimed Greg Berlanti drama series, Black Lightning. Additionally, he also stars in the murder-mystery film, What Remains, alongside Kellan Lutz and Anne Heche. Other film credits include Two Days in the Valley opposite James Spader, Jeff Daniels, Teri Hatcher, and Charlize Theron; as well as Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore, Michael Vartan, and David Arquette. Some theater credits include Othello, Elephant Man, Extremities, and Red Noses. Television credits include ER, NYPD Blue, The West Wing, Grey’s Anatomy, and Friday Night Lights. Cress can also be seen in four successful seasons as a series regular on Hart of Dixie with Rachel Bilson, in addition to stints on Prison Break; Living Single; Nash Bridges; Close to Home; Code Black; Cold Case; and Beverly Hills, 90210.

Jasmine Amy Rogers

Jasmine Amy Rogers


Jasmine Amy Rogers

Jasmine recently wrapped a run in Chicago as the title character in the Broadway bound production of BOOP! The Musical, reteaming her with director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell. She played the scene stealing Gretchen Wieners in the National Tour of Mean Girls, was seen as Melody Green in Paper Mill Playhouse’s production of The Wanderer and as Francis Bassey in the world premiere of Becoming Nancy, directed by Jerry Mitchell at the Alliance Theatre. TV includes Evil on Paramount+.  She was a Jimmy Awards’ finalist and appeared in Cabaret as Sally Bowles at the Manhattan School of Music where she studied musical theater.

Creative Team

George C. Wolfe (Book)

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Theatre directing credits include The Iceman Cometh, Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed (NY Drama Critics’ Circle Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Musical); Lucky Guy; The Normal Heart (Drama Desk); Jelly’s Last Jam (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award); Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (Tony Award and Drama Desk) and Perestroika (Drama Desk); Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk (Tony and Drama League Award); Topdog/Underdog (Obie Award); Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (Drama Desk); Elaine Stritch at Liberty (Tony for Special Theatrical Event); The Tempest; Caroline, or Change (Olivier Award Best Musical); and A Free Man of Color. From 1993-2005 Wolfe was the Producer of The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival. He is the writer of the award-winning The Colored Museum, Shuffle Along…, he directed/adapted Spunk (Obie Award), and Harlem Song.

Ferdinand La Menthe “Jelly Roll” Morton (Music)

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Morton was born in the Creole gentry of New Orleans in 1891, but was irresistibly drawn to the excitement of the infamous Storyville district where he made his reputation as a pianist. At a young age he left New Orleans to travel the country, landing in Chicago in the 1920s. He and his band, The Red Hot Peppers, became the top black recording artists for RCA Records in 1927-1928. Morton’s music integrated the sounds of ragtime, blues, African rhythms and French opera, establishing him as one of the great jazz pioneers. But by 1930 his music was considered old hat. He died in Los Angeles in 1941.

Susan Birkenhead (Lyrics)

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Susan Birkenhead received a Tony Nomination, a Grammy nomination and a Drama Desk Award for her lyrics for Jelly’s Last Jam, which she wrote with George C. Wolfe.  She was nominated for a Tony award for Working, and a Drama Desk Award for Triumph of Love. She won an Outer Critics Circle Award for What About Luv? and a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for Minsky’s.

She wrote additional lyrics for High Society on Broadway, and  was one of several writers of A My Name Is Alice and Stars of David off Broadway.

The Secret Life of Bees, which she’s written with Lynn Nottage and Duncan Sheik, is currently playing in London.

Her musical, On Cedar Street, which she’s written with Emily Mann and Carmel Dean will be done this summer at The Berkshire Theatre Group.  Boop, which she’s written with David Foster and Bob Martin, will go into rehearsal in October, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, for a quick tryout in Chicago, then Broadway.

Luther Henderson (Musical Adaptation and Additional Music Composed)

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Luther Henderson was a composer, arranger, orchestrator, music director, and performer with a long and impressive career spanning multiple genres. Henderson worked on more than 50 Broadway productions. He served as the original pianist and orchestrator, arranger, and musical supervisor for Ain’t Misbehavin‘. For Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, he was the musical consultant and arranged several selections. He orchestrated the Tony Award-winning Raisin and Play On! As a dance arranger, Henderson‘s credits included Flower Drum Song, Do Re Mi, Funny Girl, and No, No Nanette. He also had a robust recording career, featuring albums with the Canadian Brass Quintet, Eileen Farrell, Columbia Records, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Andre Kostelanetz Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, Mandy Patinkin, Polly Bergen, Anita Ellis, and others. (Sources: National Endowment for the Arts,

Kent Gash (Director)

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Co-Author and Director, Something to Live For at Pittsburgh Public (BroadwayWorld Best New Musical), The Three Musketeers at Oregon Shakespeare and The Acting Co. Tarell McCraney’s Choir Boy, Steppenwolf, Studio Theatre  (Jeff & Bay Area Critics Awards). LA: August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean at South Coast Rep, Harriet’s Return at Geffen Playhouse. NYC: Barbecue at the Public, Lockdown at Rattlestick, Miss Eevers Boys (NYC premiere) at Melting Pot. Select from 100+ Award winning Regional: Guys and Dolls at the Guthrie; The Wiz at Ford’s Theatre; “Master Harold”…and the Boys at Arizona Theatre Company; Tarell McCraney’s Wig Out! at Studio Theatre DC and Sundance; Jelly’s Last Jam; Pacific Overtures; Topdog/Underdog (Norton Award); God of Carnage; Five Guys Named Moe; Quiara Hudes’ Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue; and 26 MILES, as the Associate Artistic Director at Alliance Theatre (2001-2009). Troilus and Cressida, Godspell, Twelfth Night, Guys and Dolls, Beehive, as Associate Artistic Director at Alabama Shakespeare Festival (1999-2001). Kent is the current Artistic Director at The Acting Company (2021-present) and Founding Director of New Studio on Broadway, Tisch, NYU. BFA: Carnegie-Mellon. MFA: UCLA.

Darryl Archibald (Music Direction)

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Some Like It Hot (Broadway – Shubert Theatre); Motown: The Musical (Broadway – Nederlander Theatre); Yemandja the new Angelique Kidjo musical (music supervisor – world tour); Jelly’s Last Jam (guest conductor – New York City Center); Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ (Pre Broadway engagement – The Old Globe); Encore! on Disney+ (Ragtime episode); The Color Purple (Broadway tour and Paper Mill Playhouse); Wicked (substitute conductor – Pantages Theater); Memphis (Broadway tour); A Little Night Music, Ragtime, Little Shop of Horrors with M.J. Rodriguez (Pasadena Playhouse); Dear World with Tyne Daly (VPAC); Two By Two with Jason Alexander (Reprise); Passion (Boston Court); Jonathan Dove’s Innocence (Banff Centre). Full bio at

Dell Howlett (Choreographer)

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Dell is a New York based Virginia born choreographer/director. Selected credits: Forsyth County Is Flooding (Atlanta Opera), Malvolio (Classical Theatre of Harlem), Billy Strayhorn: Something to Live For (Pittsburgh Public Theatre), Toni Stone (Alliance Theatre and Milwaukee Repertory) It Came From Outer Space (Chicago Shakespeare Theater and TheatreSquared), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), Guys and Dolls (Guthrie Theatre), Paradise Square (Associate to Bill T. Jones, Berkeley Repertory Theatre), The Wiz (Ford’s Theater), WigOut (Studio Theater), The C.A. Lyons Project (Alliance Theater). Head of Dance at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts in the Department of Drama’s New Studio on Broadway. Upcoming: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Summer 2024, Classical Theatre of Harlem), Mandela the Musical (Fall 2024), and Furlough’s Paradise (Spring 2025, Geffen Playhouse). IG: @aristotlejr

Edward E. Haynes, Jr. (Scenic Design)

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Ed is excited to be returning to the Playhouse where he last designed Crowns. Regional credits include: Arizona Theatre Company, Laguna Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, Muny Opera, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Mark Taper Forum, Ebony Repertory Theatre Company, South Coast Rep, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Berkeley Rep, East West Players, Hollywood Bowl, Marin Theatre Company, TheatreWorks, Intiman Theatre, Trinity Rep, Pittsburgh City Theater, Alley Theatre, Alliance Theatre, and many he can no longer remember. Television credits include: MTV’s Spring Break 2012 & 2011, Hip Hop Harry, The Tony Rock Project, and Culture Clash. Ed is the father of twins, Denis and Wesly, and husband to Director Elizabeth Bell-Haynes.

Samantha C. Jones (Costume Design)

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Samantha (she/her) is thankful to be returning to Pasadena Playhouse, where she previously designed Stew. She is a costume designer and educator with previous design credits at Geffen Playhouse, Center Theatre Group, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Huntington Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Court Theatre, Paramount Theatre (Aurora), Drury Lane Theatre, Writers Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Chicago Children’s Theatre, TimeLine Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Cleveland Playhouse, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Alley Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, First Stage Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Peninsula Players Theater, and others. Current production(s): The Lonely Few (MCC Theatre). Her work can be viewed at

Rui Rita (Lighting Design)

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Rui (he/him) Select Broadway: Skeleton Crew, Velocity of Autumn, Trip to Bountiful, Present Laughter, Dividing the Estate, Enchanted April. Off Broadway premieres: Paradise Blue, Horton Foote’s Old Friends and The Orphans’ Home Cycle (Hewes Award) (Signature Theatre), Happiest Song Plays Last (Second Stage), Just Jim Dale (Roundabout Theatre Company), Nightingale and Moonlight and Magnolias (Manhattan Theatre Club), The Carpetbagger’s Children and Far East (Lincoln Center Theater), Dinner with Friends (Variety Arts Center). Off Broadway revivals: The Piano Lesson (Signature Theatre), Talley’s Folly (Roundabout Theatre Company), Engaged (TFANA; Obie Award). Recent regional credits: Alley Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Center Stage Theater, Center Theatre Group, Dallas Theater Center, Ford’s Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Huntington, Oregon Shakespeare, The Old Globe. For Pasadena Playhouse, Fly, for which he received an LADCC Award.

Danny Erdberg (Sound Design)

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Daniel is excited to return to The Pasadena Playhouse where he’s designed the Holiday Spectacular, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George, and Head over Heels. New York: The Public Theater, New York City Opera, 92Y, Roundabout, City Center, Atlantic Theater Company, and 59E59. Regional: Arena Stage, Arizona Theater Company, Geva, Milwaukee Rep, Geffen Playhouse, ACT, Merrimack, Saratoga Opera Festival, Virginia Stage, Long Wharf, as well as productions in Korea, Japan, China, Canada and Cuba. Broadway Associate: The Iceman Cometh (Tony Nomination), Significant Other, Violet, The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Heiress, and The Nance (Tony Win). Danny is a member of IATSE, USA829, SDC and the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab. Graduate of Northwestern University.

Ursula Kwong Brown (Sound Design)

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Ursula is thrilled to return to the Pasadena Playhouse, where recent credits include the Holiday Spectacular, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George, and Head Over Heels. Other regional credits: The Wizard of Oz at ACT, Holiday at Arena Stage, King Lear at the Wallis Annenberg, The Wickhams at Arizona Theatre Company, Native Gardens at Merrimack and the world premiere of Stonewall with NYC Opera. As a composer, her work has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Miller Theatre, le Poisson Rouge, the Victoria & Albert museum, the National Portrait Gallery in London, as well as by festivals and ensembles across the country and around the world. Ursula received her B.A. in Music and Biology from Columbia University and her Ph.D. in Music Composition and New Media from UC Berkeley. More info at

Ryan Bernard Tymensky, CSA (RBT Casting)

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Ryan has made significant casting contributions to the film, television, and theater industry. With over a decade of experience working at one of the worlds premiere casting offices, The Telsey Office, Ryan has built a diverse portfolio spanning across various mediums. Ryan’s versatility in the world of casting speaks for itself. For the last eight years, Ryan has cast many theater productions in Los Angeles, including many shows at Pasadena Playhouse and The Wallis. Their portfolio also includes notable TV and film projects such as the Wicked movies, This Is Us, Atypical, and many more. Ryan puts inclusion and diversity at the heart of everything they do. Their mission is to celebrate and actively advocate for performers who reflect the full spectrum of human diversity to help expand a multiplicity of narratives; narratives that reflect the real world we live in and challenge conventional boundaries that currently exist in the entertainment industry. @rbtcasting

lark hackshaw (Stage Manager)

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Broadway: Two hilarious comedies, The Cottage and Chicken & Biscuits; the Pulitzer & Tony Award winning A Soldier’s Play, the iconic revival for colored girls… enuf and Stick Fly. lark has worked for the World Famous Apollo and has headed hundreds of productions regionally, among them: Alliance Theatre, Delaware Theatre Company, Indiana Rep, Arena Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, San Jose Rep, Arizona Theatre Co, Trinity Rep, MUNY, NC Black Rep as well as taken out several  tours. lark is a longtime Line Producer/Executive Assistant for Winston-Salem’s National Black Theatre Festival. Much love to my forever supporter, C.B.

David S. Franklin (Assistant Stage Manager)

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Past Productions at Pasadena Playhouse include One Of The Good Ones, KATE (ASM), Inherit the Wind, The Sound Inside (ASM), The Father (ASM), Stoneface, Defiance, Showtune (The Music of Jerry Herman), and Sisterella to name a few. Over at Center Theatre Group Highlights include: Baz Luhrmann’s La Bohème, Curtains, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Two Unrelated Plays by David Mamet, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, God of Carnage, Red, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Bent, Zoot Suit, Archduke, Linda Vista, King James, The Old Man and the Pool, The Secret Garden, and A Transparent Musical. Other Los Angeles: Los Angeles Theatre Center in its heyday from 1985–1990, Geffen Playhouse. Regional: Seattle Rep, Intiman Theatre. New York: Public Theater. Tours: Europe — Quotations from a Ruined City, Law of Remains (with Reza Abdoh’s Dar a Luz company).

Miriam Mendoza (Assistant Stage Manager)

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Miriam (she/her) is extremely excited to be returning to Pasadena Playhouse. Credits include One of the Good Ones, Inherit the Wind (Pasadena Playhouse); world premiere of Alma, Tambo & Bones (Center Theatre Group – Kirk Douglas Theatre); 2:22 A Ghost Story and The Secret Garden (Center Theatre Group – Ahmanson Theatre); world premiere of A Transparent Musical (Center Theatre Group – Mark Taper Forum); The Half Life of Marie Curie (Theatre SilCo). An El Paso, Texas native, Miriam teaches and works around the Los Angeles area. She is a company member of New Swan Shakespeare Festival and has worked for the Walt Disney Company’s Imagination Campus (formerly known as Disney Performing Arts). MFA in Stage Management from the University of California, Irvine.

Jessica Keasberry-Vnuk (Assistant Stage Manager)

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Jessica is so excited to be back at Pasadena Playhouse! Past credits include: Inherit the Wind (Pasadena Playhouse); Galilee, 34 (South Coast Repertory); A Weekend with Pablo Picasso (LA Theatre Works Tour); 2024 LA Writers’ Workshop Festival, A Christmas Story, A Transparent Musical, The Secret Garden, 2:22 A Ghost Story (Center Theatre Group); The Gardens of Anuncia (The Old Globe); Ghosts, Orlando (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Peter Pan and Tinker Bell (Lythgoe Family Panto); Driving Miss Daisy, Clybourne Park, King of the Road (Laguna Playhouse); The Glass Menagerie (International City Theatre). She received her B.A. in Drama and Certificate in Arts Management from the University of California, Irvine.

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Access Performance

Open Captioning

Guests who enjoy open captioning may request to be seated in view of a video screen with text descriptions synchronized to the onstage action designed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The Open Captioned performance of Jelly’s Last Jam will be on Sunday, June 16, 2024 at 2:00 PM.

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Audio Description

Join us for our Access performance to take advantage of the audio description service. The service includes verbal descriptions of actions, costumes, scenery, and other visual elements of the production and is designed for patrons who are blind or have low vision. Guests may request a listening device to hear live audio descriptions. Audio description is available in all seating locations on the Orchestra level of the theater. If you would like to hear the pre-show notes, please be in your seat 15 minutes before showtime.

The audio-described performance of Jelly’s Last Jam will be on Sunday, June 16, 2024 at 2:00 PM.

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Special Performances

Wine Wednesday

Preview week Wednesday, ticket holders are invited to come early and enjoy complimentary wine prior to the show at Pasadena Playhouse.

The Wine Wednesday performance of Jelly’s Last Jam will be on Wednesday, May 28 at 8:00 PM.

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Content Advisory

This production of Jelly’s Last Jam includes explicit racial and sexual language and simulated violence.