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Miami New Drama musical examines the life of jazz great Louis Armstrong

Stian Roenning
Juson Williams stars as Louis Armstrong in Miami New Drama’s "A Wonderful World."

The book for "A Wonderful World" was written by playwright and TV writer Aurin Squire, who grew up in Miami-Dade County.

Among the South Florida shows that had to be put on hold at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is the world premiere of a musical about jazz great Louis Armstrong.

But now, after a nearly two-year wait, Miami New Drama's production of "A Wonderful World" is running at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach.

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The book for "A Wonderful World" was written by Miami-Dade-raised playwright and television writer Aurin Squire.

He says his fascination with the gravelly-voiced trumpet player began eleven years ago with a holiday gift from a co-worker.

"Someone gave me an enormous Louie Armstrong biography," he said. "And that got me pulling up YouTube clips, listening to old recordings, listening to live concerts he did in Europe."

In the musical, the story of Armstrong's life is told through the point of view of each of his four wives.

Squire says the marriages encapsulate four different areas of Armstrong's life journey, as well as the history of jazz in the 20th century.

The first phase begins with Armstrong's roots in New Orleans; meeting his first wife, Daisy Parker and going to Chicago during the Great Northern Migration.

His second marriage to jazz pianist, singer and composer Lil Hardin represents the time when jazz became what Squire calls "music-popular."

Armstrong married Alpha Smith during the Great Depression and moved to Hollywood — marking a time when jazz started hitting motion pictures.

The final phase is with Lucille Wilson in Queens, New York, from the 1940s to the end of Armstrong's life.

"This is when jazz started moving out of being pop culture and started moving into being high art," said Squire.



"A Wonderful World"

Running through Jan.16, 2022
Colony Theatre
1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach

For more information, please visit miaminewdrama.org