If you’re looking for an exciting night on the town, look no further: Shuffle Along on Broadway is the show you’ve been waiting for. This musical, starring acclaimed actress Audra McDonald, brings you compelling and touching characters while diving into the topic of racial discrimination and exploring how black artists have had to fight tooth and nail to make their claim in theater. The play within a play gives audiences a glimpse into the journey toward racial equality in the arts – an issue we still see playing out today.
Technically, Shuffle Along is the shortened version of this musical’s title. Its full name is actually Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. It’s a fascinating distinction, as Shuffle Along is a musical on its own, and that original show will be part of the upcoming production – as a play within the play.
The original Shuffle Along followed the power struggle between two men trying to become the mayor of Jimtown. It was a black revue that became a breakout hit when it first came to the Great White Way in the ‘20s. The writers and performers in the original production of Shuffle Along made history and helped break down social barriers preventing black creators and performers from finding success in the industry.
That journey is the outer frame of the story told in the production coming to Broadway in 2016. Not only will performers revive the original plotline, the writers have interwoven the story of those trailblazers behind the ‘20s Shuffle Along run. This is a powerful moment in history for this kind of artistic statement, as the issue of minority representation in media is currently gaining public focus. This production may even serve a dual purpose from a cultural perspective by at once showing how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go.
The production has a skilled cast set to bring these issues and stories to life. Leading the cast is six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, playing Lottie Gee. McDonald has wowed audiences and critics alike in the past, earning widespread acclaim for her roles in Ragtime, Masterclass, A Raisin in the Sun, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and Carousel. McDonald will be joined by Brian Stokes Mitchell (Man of La Mancha and Kiss Me, Kate), Billy Porter (Kinky Boots, Grease), Brandon Victor Dixon (The Color Purple), Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys), Brooks Ashmanskas (Something Rotten!) and Adrienne Warren (Bring It On: The Musical).
Shuffle Along will begin previews at the Music Box Theatre on March 15, 2016. The show officially opens on April 28. Audiences will get to see the original production in all its splendour, and the incredible story behind the show’s original incarnation. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to see history unfold before your eyes – get your Shuffle Along tickets today!
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- “Broadway babies” join the cast of “Shuffle Along” (cbsnews.com)
- Whiteness still an issue on the Great White Way (newsday.com)
- The Musical That Ushered In The Jazz Age Gets Its Own Musical (npr.org)