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Signature Theatre Ready for Jazz With Jelly's Last Jam

The musical biography of jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton opens tonight.

Mark Meadows stars in Jelly's Last Jam, directed by Matthew Gardiner, at Signature Theatre.
(© Christopher Mueller)

Jelly's Last Jam opens tonight at Signature Theatre.

The musical tells the story of one of jazz music's pioneers, Jelly Roll Morton, with a jazz, blues, and ragtime score based on his original music. Journey from the back alleys of New Orleans to the dance halls of Chicago to the stages of New York with "he who drinks from the vine of syncopation" in a sizzling memoir of pride, lust, and a past denied.

Signature associate artistic director Matthew Gardiner directs acclaimed jazz pianist Mark G. Meadows as Jelly Roll Morton from a book by George C. Wolfe with music by Jelly Roll Morton and Luther Henderson and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead. Starring alongside Meadows are Tony winner Cleavant Derricks and Helen Hayes winner Felicia Boswell. The cast also includes Iyona Blake, Guy Lockard, VaShawn McIlwain, Nova Y. Payton, Kara-Tameika Watkins, and Eben Logan. Completing the ensemble is Chris Broughton, DeWitt Fleming, Olivia Russell, DeMoya Watson Brown, Joseph Monroe Webb, and Stephen Scott Wormley.

"George C. Wolfe and Susan Birkenhead's musical was a game-changer in the American musical theatre when it premiered on Broadway in 1992," said director Matthew Gardiner. "It's a musical that I've loved for years and it has one of the most beautifully rendered and complex characters ever written for the musical theater in Jelly Roll Morton."

The production team includes Darius Smith (musical direction), Dan Conway (scenic design), Dede M Ayite (costume design), Grant Wilcoxen (lighting design), Lane Elms (sound design), Leah Loukas (wig design), Casey Kaleba (fight choreography), and production stage manager Kerry Epstein.

Jelly's Last Jam will play through September 11.

For more information and tickets, click here.