Shows & Events

Jelly’s Last Jam


Sep 17 – Sep 18, 2022

Jelly's Last Jam

About the Show

Concert Performance, In-Person, 222 Sargent Drive Book by George C. WolfeMusic by Jelly Roll Morton Lyrics by Susan BirkenheadMusical Adaptation and Additional Music Composed by Luther Henderson
Directed by Dennis Whitehead DarlingCreative Consultation by Patricia McGregor
Choreography by Chris Bell
Musical Direction by David Freeman Coleman
Casting by Stephanie Yankwitt, tbd casting co.
In partnership with the Stetson Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library

At the birth of jazz in the early 20th century, one man led the band. The legendary Jelly Roll Morton revolutionized American music like no one before him. His life—the dizzying heights and inconceivable lows—becomes a thrilling theatrical ride in Jelly’s Last Jam. With an electrifying cast and a red-hot band, this concert reading spotlights the story of a trailblazing artist and celebrates New Haven’s love affair with jazz.

Learn about the show from Jelly’s Last Jam director Dennis Whitehead Darling

Creative Team

Theatre directing credits include The Iceman ComethShuffle Alongor 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 GuyThe 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 TempestCaroline, 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 MuseumShuffle Along, he directed/adapted Spunk (Obie), and Harlem Song. 

Jelly Roll Morton was a New Orleans jazz composer and pianist, a defining figure in the evolution of jazz, and a pioneer of prearranged, semiorchestrated effects in jazz-band performances. Morton was one of the first ragtime piano players and the self-proclaimed inventor of jazz. He was instrumental in the transition from early jazz to orchestral jazz in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century. He moved to California circa 1917 and made his recording debut in 1923. Following that he created recordings with his jazz group, the Red Hot Peppers, which gained him national acclaim. His most famous pieces include “Black Bottom Stomp,” “King Porter Stomp,” “Shoe Shiner’s Drag,” and “Dead Man Blues.” (Sources: Encyclopedia Brittanica, “Music Rising at Tulane University) 

Susan Birkenhead received a Tony Nomination, a Grammy nomination and a Drama Desk Award for her lyrics for Jelly’s Last Jam. She was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Triumph of Love, and won a Drama Desk Award and a Tony nomination for Working. She won an Outer Critics Circle award for What About Luv, and an L.A. Drama Critics Award for Minsky’s. She wrote additional lyrics and new songs for the Broadway version of High Society, and wrote songs for the Off Broadway Stars of David, and A My Name Is Alice. She has also written The Secret Life of Bees with Lynn Nottage and Duncan Sheik, which will open in London in April of ‘23. ….and Betty Boop’s Day Off, with Bob Martin and David Foster, which will open in Chicago in December ’23. 

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, 

Dennis Whitehead Darling is a Stage Director in opera and theatre in the United States and Europe. His recent directing credits include the world premieres of Marian’s Song (Houston Grand Opera), Sanctuary Road (North Carolina Opera) and Why I Live at the PO (UrbanArias), Buried Deep: The Lynchburg Pools (End Station Theatre), and The Secret River (Opera Orlando). Other works include: Die Zauberflöte (Pensacola Opera), La Bohème (Opera Columbus), Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Carnegie Mellon University), The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Red Mountain Theatre), Independence Eve (Opera Birmingham), Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (Hattiloo Theatre/Spazio Teatro No’hma – Milan), Jelly’s Last Jam (Hattiloo Theatre), The Parchman Hour (Hattiloo Theatre), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Spazio Teatro No’hma – Milan), Intimate Apparel (University of Memphis), Movin’ Up in the World (Opera Memphis), Sunset Baby (Hattiloo Theatre), James and the Giant Peach (Circuit Playhouse), Blue Viola (Opera Memphis), Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting (Hattiloo Theatre), Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (Hattiloo Theatre).

Born in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Patricia McGregor is a director and writer working in theater, film, and music. She has recently been named Artistic Director of New York Theater Workshop. McGregor has twice been profiled by  The New York Times for her direction of world premieres. Productions include Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole (co-writer and director, Geffen Playhouse); Sisters In Law (The Wallis); What You Are, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Measure for Measure (The Old Globe); Skeleton Crew (Geffen Playhouse); Good Grief  (Center TheatreGroup); Hamlet (The Public Theater); The Parchman Hour (The Guthrie Theater); Ugly Lies the Bone (Roundabout Theatre Company); brownsville song… (Lincoln Center); Indomitable: James Brown (The Apollo);  Holding It Down (Metropolitan Museum); A Raisin in the Sun, The Winter’s Tale,  Spunk (California Shakespeare Theater); Adoration of the Old Woman (INTAR); Blood Dazzler (Harlem Stage); Four Electric Ghosts (The Kitchen); and the world premiere of Hurt Village (Signature Theatre Company). She served as Associate Director of Fela! on Broadway. For many years, she has directed The 24-Hour Plays on Broadway and the Raisin In The Sun Broadway benefit for Adam Driver’s Arts In the Armed Forces. She served as director for HBO emerging writer’s showcase and tour consultant to Raphael Saadiq and J Cole. Her short film Good Grief will premiere this year. She co-founded Angela’s Pulse with her sister, choreographer, and organizer Paloma McGregor. McGregor attended the Yale School of Drama, where she was a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow and Artistic Director of the Yale Cabaret.

Chris Bell, NYC by way of SAT. MFA (Case Western Reserve), BS Dance (Lamar), and because he likes camping and the beach BS Geology. He currently makes work with Raja Feather Kelly & the feath3r theory and is a frequent collaborator with (and former choreographic assistant to) Mark Dendy. Current & Recent Projects: The Wild Party (Choreographer, Up Until Now Collective), Eighty-Sixed (Associate Choreographer, Diversionary Theater). As an Educator he works for Roundabout Theatre, Marquis Studios and TADA! Youth Theaters. His company chrisbelldances (CBD) has presented work nationally and in NYC including evening length works at Dixon Place and Gibney Dance Center. CBD was the first dance company in residence at the Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, America’s oldest continuously operating LGBTQIA+ theater. CBD is an inaugural member of the Queensboro Dance Festival and is currently on the 2022 summer tour presenting free dance events in neighborhoods across Queens.

Associate Professor of Theater at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Lecturer of Music at Tufts University, Director of Choral Music at Dana Hall School. Recent music direction credits include Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Central Square Theater & Greater Boston Stage), Once On This Island (Speakeasy – Eliot Norton Award Nomination for Outstanding Music Direction), The Bluest Eye (Huntington Theater), Wild (A.R.T.), Passing Strange (Moonbox), Choir Boy (Speakeasy – Eliot Norton Award Nomination for Outstanding Musical Direction), Miss You Like Hell (Company One/A.R.T.). Has worked with Idina Menzel, Audra McDonald, Mariah Carey, Bobby McFerrin, Ryan Gosling and the Boston Pops. (he/him). More info at

New York: Small World Stories (Phantom Limb), Golden Shield (MTC), Letters of Suresh (2St), Sing Street (NYTW), Natural Shocks (WP), For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday (Playwrights), Robber Bridegroom (Roundabout), Servant of Two Masters (TFANA). Regional: Portland Stage, St. Louis Rep, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Rep, Two River Theater, Arena Stage, OSF, Baltimore Center Stage, Milwaukee Rep, Old Globe, The Guthrie, The Huntington, South Coast Rep, Dallas Theater Center, Ford’s Theater and others. Broadway Associate: Almost Famous, Lehman Trilogy, To Kill a Mockingbird, Girl from the North Country, Jitney, Junk, Great Comet..., Peter and the Starcatcher 

Nathan A. Roberts is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, instrument-maker, and sound designer who specializes in creating original music and soundscapes for plays, often live onstage. Long Wharf Theatre: It’s a Wonderful Life (foley artist). Off Broadway: Second Stage: Letters of Suresh; WP Theater: Natural Shocks; TFANA: The Servant of Two Masters; Playwrights Realm: Crane Story, Dramatis Personae. RegionalOregon Shakespeare Festival: The Way the Mountain Moved; Baltimore Center Stage: Miss You Like Hell, Fun Home, The Christians, Les Liaisons Dangereuses; Milwaukee Rep: Animal Farm; Dallas Theater Center/Guthrie Theater: Sense and Sensibility; The Old Globe: Tokyo Fish Story; Yale Repertory Theater: Assassins, Accidental Death of an Anarchist; Hartford Stage: Twelfth Night, The Tempest. EducationMFA, Yale School of Drama. FacultyLecturer in Theater and Performance Studies, Yale University.

Daniel Gookin worked at Long Wharf Theatre for 20 years, first as an usher in the mid 90’s and ultimately as Master Electrician. He is currently a bookkeeper at Superior Spring in Hamden while also running a management company with his husband Matt. Dan still gets to scratch that artistic itch by doing lighting designs for Hamden High School and as a singing member and Production Manager of The Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus. Dan and Matt are the proud parents of their fur baby Boris who would always show up to meet the actors and provide puppy therapy during LWT tech rehearsals. 

Stephanie Yankwitt, CSA (tbd casting co.) Theatrical collaborators include Long Wharf Theatre, Soho Rep, Tectonic Theater Project, NAATCO., Primary Stages, La Jolla Playhouse, and Miami New Drama. Current film collaborators include ongoing work with Culture House, O Positive Films, AFI, Lexicon Films and The Gotham Film & Media Institute. Upcoming work includes the “Growing Up,” a series on Disney+ and “Who You Callin’ a Bitch” a Netflix series – both for Culture House, and a world premiere of Shayok Misha Chowdhury’s play PUBLIC OBSCENITIES for Soho Rep & NAATCO this winter.

 Long Wharf: An Iliad, The Underpants. Broadway: Anastasia, The Real Thing. New York: 2nd Stage, Fiasco Theatre, Lincoln Center – LCT3, The Public, Vineyard Theatre, Red Bull Theatre, NYMF, Theatre for a New Audience, Working Theatre, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, The Actors Company Theatre. Regional: Hartford Stage, Goodspeed Opera House, Trinity Repertory Company, La Jolla Playhouse, New York Stage and Film, North Coast Rep, Bard SummerScape, Bucks County Playhouse. International: Royal College of Music, London; Shakespeare’s Globe, London. Education: UC San Diego. 

Chelsea Janke is a freelance AEA stage manager based in New York City. She is excited to be back at Long Wharf after working as a production assistant for LWT during the 2018-2019 season. Other credits include Broadway: The Lehman Trilogy and Slava’s Snowshow; Off Broadway: The Vagrant Trilogy (The Public Theater), The Tap Dance Kid (City Center), and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She wants to thank her entire LWT family for their support and for always being willing to go get tacos! 

Katherine Brown is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University’s Theatre Department. She recently acted as lighting supervisor for Long Wharf Theatre’s 2021-2022 season. Other recent credits include Out of Bounds (Master Electrician), Red Velvet (Master Electrician), Matilda (Lighting Designer, Sound Designer, A1), and The Flamingo Kid (Spot Op). 

The Cast

Iris Beaumier recently made her Broadway debut as The Narrator Alternate in The Little Prince. She previously played Josephine Baker in The Dark Star from Harlem at LaMaMa Theatre in New York City (AUDELCO for Best Lead Actress in a Musical). Regional credits include Sarah in Ragtime (Theatreworks Silicon Valley), Godspell (Theatre Aspen), Marvelous Wonderettes (Rep. Theatre of St.Louis), Rent (Weathervane Playhouse), and Dr. Rees Ziti’s Pageant (ArsNova’s ANTFest), originating the role of Restin. TV and film credits include “Modern Love” (Amazon), “Blindspot” (NBC), “Alternatino” (Comedy Central), “Instinct” (CBS) , and “Mariannes Noires” (Round Room Image), a documentary about Afro-French womanhood. Carnegie Mellon University, proud NYC native. @iris.beaumier 

Broadway: Happiness in Thoughts of a Colored Man, George Washington in Hamilton, originated the role of Marvin Gaye in Motown: The Musical (Grammy nomination). Theatre: Fences (Corey) opposite Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, Immediate Family directed by Phylicia Rashad. Film: Our Sondirected by Bill Oliver, Sneakerella (Disney), Collateral Beauty (Warner Bros.). Television: “Saint X” (Hulu), “Inventing Anna” and “When They See Us” (Netflix), “Snowpiercer” (TNT/Netflix), “Queen Sugar” and “Cherish the Day” (OWN), “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC), “The New Edition Story” (BET). Education: Yale School of Drama. Instagram @therealbtc

Tina Fabrique is happy to return to Long Wharf Theatre, where she starred as Ella Fitzgerald in her one woman show ELLA, the role she created at Theaterworks and toured for 7 years. Broadway credits include: Bring in Da Noise, The Wiz, Ragtime, Dessa Rose, How To Succeed, and Gospel at Colonus. Off Broadway – 70, Girls, 70, Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope, Most Happy in Concert (2022 Williamstown Theater Festival). Tina played Duppy Mary in Marys Seacole at Mosaic Theater in Washington, DC this spring. TV credits include Blue Bloods, New Amsterdam, God Friended Me, The Last OG, Law and Order: SVU and Criminal Intent. Tina sings the original theme song to Reading Rainbow on the TV show. 

Carmen Ruby Floyd has graced the stages of the world from the United States to Japan, with her “utmost expressiveness and beauty of tone.” Last seen on Broadway in Hello, Dolly, she understudied legend Bette Midler – making her the first African American Dolly since Pearl Bailey.  Other Broadway credits: OBC of Avenue Q, Disney’s The Lion King, Porgy and Bess revival, Chicago, and OBC of After Midnight. The New York Times wrote, “The swagger and big voice of Carmen Ruby Floyd provide… star quality and star charisma…” A frequent voiceover and recording artist, she has been heard on radio and television around the globe. An exciting addition to an already fascinating career, Ms. Floyd released her debut album – Broadway, Jazz Me! Married to fellow Broadway and Film Actor, J. Bernard Calloway (Ms. Pat Show) their favorite co-production is their son, Jacob. All Media @CarmenRubyFloyd 

A sought after vocalist and Grammy winner, Sydney has performed on the world’s finest concert stages including Radio City, Avery Fisher, Carnegie Hall, and Arthur Ashe Stadium (US Open Finals). He has appeared on and off-Broadway starring in productions like the cultural phenomenon Hamilton (OBC), Disney’s The Lion King, Green Day’s American Idiot, and the U.S. Premier of Bob Dylan’s Girl From the North Country where he originated the role of Joe Scott, receiving critical raves and nominations for the Drama Desk,  Lortel, and Audelco Awards.  Television credits include Tell Me A Story, Blue Bloods, FBI, NCIS, Elementary, Younger, The Good Wife, and he currently stars in Castlevania: Nocturne (Netflix).  Films include Hamilton, Disney’s Enchanted, and leading the upcoming musical feature ‘I’m Not Gay’. 

Originally a native of Southern California, Christian moved to NYC after attending Kansas Wesleyan University and majoring in Theater and Music. He was last seen in the National Tour of Anastasia where he was in the ensemble and also covered the principal role of Gleb. Getting to sing the music of Jelly’s Last Jam is a dream for Christian. Needless to say he is very grateful to be a part of this project. You may follow him on all his socials @TheShow6000 

Sharaé Moultrie is a NYC-based actor, singer, and commercial model. Sharaé has performed across the globe in musicals and at renowned venues such as Feinstein’s/54Below, Joe’s Pub at the Public, and music festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Notable roles include Deena Jones (Dreamgirls, International Tour), Rizzo (Grease), Emmie Thibodeaux (Caroline, or Change), and Lady Larken (Once Upon A Mattress). Her TV/Film appearances include FBI: Most Wanted, Hal King the Musical, and the 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She gives special thanks to God, her family, friends, and agents for their support. Follow her journey at 

Justin G. Nelson is a multi-hyphenate based in NYC. He is thrilled to be making his debut at Long Wharf Theatre. His recent credits include Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare Theatre Company) and The North American Tour of Wizard of Oz. Follow him on IG @justingnelson 

Jessica Hailey Reese is from Kennesaw, Georgia. She recently graduated from The University of Oklahoma and has had the honor of working with Music Theatre Wichita as Viola in Twelfth Night and Marty in Grease. She recently spent the summer at Theatre Aspen as Sister Margaretta in The Sound of Music and in the ensemble of Gypsy. Some other roles include: Dynamite/Pearl in Hairspray, Woman 2 in Songs For A New World, Woman 2 in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Margot in Legally Blonde and many other thrilling shows. Jessica is grateful to her family for pushing her to “dance to her own music” and follow her dreams. IG: @jessicahaileyreese 

Steve Routman Long Wharf: The Underpants (CT Critics Award), Other People’s Money (CT Critics Nom.), The Second Mrs. Wilson, Our Town. Regional: over 35 theaters around the country, including Hartford Stage, Goodspeed Opera House, and Westport Playhouse. Film: Killers of the Flower Moon, Boston Strangler, Mother’s Instinct, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Bourne Legacy, The Irishman. Television: Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, FBI: Most Wanted, Fosse/Verdon. 

Julian Rozzell is a resident of New York City, residing in Brooklyn, NY. He recently performed in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Merry Wives at The Public Theater. Hagrid in the Broadway version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Most recently he was in the TONY nominated Skin of our Teeth at Lincoln Center. Television credits include recurring roles on Boardwalk Empire, Bull, Law and Order, Blacklist, Harlem, and Fallout directed by Jonathan Nolan. 

Justin Sudderth is a recent graduate of Montclair State University’s B.F.A. Musical Theatre Program. His recent credits include Something Rotten! (Forestburgh Playhouse), Mama Mia! (Forestburgh Playhouse), and Our Town (The Barnstormers Theatre). 

Amaya White is a recent graduate from Montclair State University and a New Jersey native. She most recently starred as Casey Seeger in An Officer and a Gentleman (1st national tour). Other credits include: Baby: The Musical, Hair, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, LINK. Endless thanks to God, the Collective, family, and friends! @yourstrulyamaya


Jason SweetTooth Williams is a New York City-based theater artist. Most recently Jason was seen on Broadway in Be More Chill! He’s worked extensively with writer Joe Iconis, appearing in such Iconis-penned musicals as Bloodsong of Love (Ars Nova), The Black Suits (SPF- The Public Theater), ReWrite (Urban Stages), Things To Ruin, and others. Jason originated roles in Disney’s Freaky Friday (La Jolla Playhouse, Signature Theater), Benny and Joon (The Old Globe), and Crossing Brooklyn (Transport Group). He appeared opposite Jackie Hoffman as Prince Dauntless in Transport Group’s Off-Broadway revival of Once Upon a Mattress. As a writer, Jason co-wrote the new musical Broadway Bounty Hunter (with Iconis and Lance Rubin), which premiered in NYC at Greenwich House Theater and starred the great Annie Golden!