Correspondent Maurice DuBois talks with tap dancer/choreographer Savion Glover and director George C. Wolfe, who first worked together in Jelly's Last Jam, about bringing back to life the legendary 1921 show that was one of the earliest hits starring, written and directed by African-Americans.
Check out a previews below:
Shuffle Along is scheduled to open April 28—the last possible date of eligibility for the 2016 Tony Awards. Previews begin March 15 at the Music Box Theatre. The musical will star 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.
Scott Rudin is producing the show, Wolfe is writing the book as well as directing, and Glover will choreograph.
The backstage story is about the making of one of the first 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.
Featured in the supporting cast will be Brooks Ashmanskas, Felicia Boswell, Amber Iman, Adrienne Warren, Phillip Attmore, Darius de Haas, C.K. Edwards, Afra Hines, Curtis Holland, Adrienne Howard, Kendrick Jones, Lisa LaTouche, Alicia Lundgren, J.C. Montgomery, Erin N. Moore, Janelle Neal, Brittany Parks, Arbender Robinson, Karissa Royster, Britton Smith, Zurin Villanueva, Christian Dante White, J.L. Williams, Pamela Yasutake and Richard Riaz Yoder.
Tickets are now on sale by calling (212) 239-6200 or visiting Telecharge.com.
“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," press notes state.
"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.”