Critics Review Broadway’s Shuffle Along

The Verdict   The Verdict: Critics Review Broadway’s Shuffle Along
 
Tony winners Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, George C. Wolfe, Billy Porter and Savion Glover collaborated on the backstage story.
Shuffle Along HR02.jpg
Audra McDonald Julieta Cervantes

The new Broadway musical Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed opened April 28 at the Music Box Theatre.

The musical stars record-breaking six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, along with fellow Tony winners Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter, plus Tony nominees Brandon Victor Dixon and Joshua Henry.

It was the final opening of the 2015-16 Broadway season.

Scott Rudin is producer. Director George C. Wolfe also wrote the book with Savion Glover creating the choreography. All three are Tony winners as well. The new musical uses the original Eubie Blake/Noble Sissle music with an original libretto by Wolfe. The show represents the first collaboration between Wolfe and tap master Glover since their Tony-winning Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk in 1996.

The backstage story recounts the making of one of the first successful all-black Broadway musical hits that was also written by African-Americans. It opened the door for black performers and writers on the stage during the 1920s Harlem Renaissance.

The critics have filed their reviews, and Playbill.com has collected them for our readers. Click through to read them all. Playbill.com will continue to update our list as the reviews come in.

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“Broadway Superheroes” Unite to Tell the Story of Shuffle Along


According to production notes, “In May 1921, the new musical Shuffle Along became the unlikeliest of hits, significantly altering the face of the Broadway musical as well as that of New York City. By the time Shuffle Along stumbled into town after a back-breaking pre-Broadway tour, it was deeply in debt and set to open at a remote Broadway house on West 63rd Street. In a season full of spectacles, such as Sally — a Ziegfeld musical — and another edition of George White’s Scandals, Shuffle Along’s failure was almost a foregone conclusion.

“New York City was still in the throes of the Depression of 1920. And despite being celebrated vaudeville performers, Miller and Lyles and Sissle and Blake had never performed on Broadway, much less written a musical. But with an infectious jazz score and exuberant dancing, Shuffle Along [which contained the hit ‘I’m Just Wild About Harry’] ignited not just Broadway but all of New York City. George Gershwin, Fanny Brice, Al Jolson, Langston Hughes, and famed critic George Jean Nathan were among the many fans who repeatedly flocked to West 63rd Street to see a cast which — during its run of 504 performances — featured such incipient luminaries as Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, Florence Mills, Fredi Washington, and Adelaide Hall. Because of Shuffle Along, Uptown and Downtown met and became one.”

The new show, which began previews March 15, took the unusual step of opening ”cold” in New York, without an out-of-town tryout. After two workshops in fall 2015, the show began a six-week preview period that included a four-day hiatus for rewrites. The show reportedly was running close to three hours in early previews, but has been trimmed.

Tickets are available by calling (212) 239-6200 or visiting Telecharge.com.

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