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

OPENING NIGHT: JUN 2

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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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Creative Team

George C. Woolf (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, Playbill.com)

Ticket Info

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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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