"Shuffle Along" is one of the most anticipated musicals of 2016. One of the most delightful scenes has Lottie taking newcomer Florence Mills (Adrienne Warren, a kewpie-doll firecracker) under her wing and coaching her through the number "I'm Craving for That Kind of Love." [5] It had brief revivals in 1933 and 1952. Shop Brand New Color Playbill from Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed starring Audra McDonald Brian Stokes Mitchell Billy Porter Brandon Victor Dixon Joshua Henry Book by George C. Wolfe, Music by Eubie Blake, Lyrics by Noble Sissle and more music, movie, and TV memorabilia at Amazon's Entertainment Collectibles Store. "[5] Nevertheless, the African-American community embraced the show, and performers recognized the importance of the show's success to their careers. FACEBOOK David Rooney It's a hazard of every rise-and-fall story that the downward spiral can bring a corresponding loss of buoyancy to the material. In a Broadway season notable for making the Great White Way a full spectrum of onstage diversity, it's good to honor the pioneers. [citation needed], A stage adaptation, titled Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, featured the original music from Shuffle Along and other songs by its creators, with a book written by George C. Wolfe based on the original by Miller and Lyles and historical events. But while a production number is fashioned around that forecast, too much of the concluding information is imparted documentary-style, resulting in a limp ending. The show premiered on Broadway at the Daly's 63rd Street Theatre on May 23, 1921, and closed on July 15, 1922, after 504 performances. "Any show that followed the characteristics of Shuffle Along could usually be assured of favorable reviews or at least a modest audience response. [6][10] Its appeal to audiences of all races, and to celebrities such as George Gershwin, Fanny Brice, Al Jolson, Langston Hughes and critic George Jean Nathan, helped to unite the white Broadway and black jazz communities and improve race relations in America.[6][7][11]. 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. Whether it’s considered a revival or a new musical, Shuffle Along or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed is for most of its overstuffed duration an exuberant entertainment. “Shuffle Along” is often called the first successful all-black musical. Choreographer: Savion Glover Sam wins with the help of a crooked campaign manager. Kinky Boots (Apr 04, 2013 - Apr 07, 2019) Starring: Billy Porter. by Full title: "Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed." Shuffle Along yielded Sissle and Blake’s best-known song, “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” as… “Shuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed” has music and lyrics by Sissle and Blake, an original book … All rights reserved. [7] Promoters were skeptical that a black-written and produced show would appeal to Broadway audiences. [27] The cast starred Audra McDonald as Lottie Gee, Brian Stokes Mitchell as Miller, Billy Porter as Lyles, Brandon Victor Dixon as Blake and Joshua Henry as Sissle. Josephine Baker, who was deemed too young at the age of 15 to be in the show, joined the touring company in Boston, and then joined the Broadway cast when she turned 16. 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. [12] Bessie Allison's first professional performance was in Shuffle Along. [24], During World War II, Sissle and Blake adapted and performed Shuffle Along for USO shows, with an ensemble that included pianist and vibraphonist Sylvester Lewis.[25]. Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed is a musical adaptation based on the original book of the 1921 musical, focusing on the challenges of mounting the original production of Shuffle Along and its effect on Broadway and race relations. Yet, if a show strayed from what had become the standard formula for the black musical, disastrous reviews became almost inevitable. | EU Privacy Preferences. It launched the careers of Josephine Baker, Adelaide Hall,[4] Florence Mills, Fredi Washington and Paul Robeson, and became such a hit that it caused "curtain time traffic jams" on West 63rd Street. The show focuses on the challenges of mounting the 1921 Broadway production of Shuffle Along, its success and aftermath, including its effect on Broadway and race relations. This production was unsuccessful and closed after 17 performances. When the show came back to New York, about a year later, during the Depression of 1920–21, the production owed $18,000 and faced strong competition on Broadway in a season that included Florenz Ziegfeld's Sally and a new edition of George White's Scandals. Gertrude Saunders was replaced by Florence Mills. The detailed attention to period performance styles is exceptional, as is the degree to which the stars all pull their weight in the galvanic dance numbers. Sam keeps his promise to appoint Steve as chief of police, but they begin to disagree on petty matters. [29] The production closed on July 24, 2016. It’s also a social and showbusiness history lesson that’s … [28] The adaptation received ten 2016 Tony Award nominations but won none. The show chronicles the backstage struggle to bring the first all-black jazz musical comedy to Broadway, with chorines that actually hoofed it up rather than just promenading like stiff mannequins in massive headgear, and a plot that included the then-radical element of a love story between two African-Americans. Director: George C. Wolfe A 1952 revival, starring Sissle and Blake, Avon Long and Thelma Carpenter and choreographed by Henry LeTang, was also unsuccessful. Scene after scene dazzles in one of the most electrifying entertainments on Broadway. "[22] Loften Mitchell, author of Black Drama: The Story of the American Negro in the Theatre, credited Shuffle Along with launching the Harlem Renaissance,[citation needed] as did Langston Hughes. [citation needed] However, the success of the show set limits on the black-themed shows that followed. They resolve their differences in a long, comic fight. [9], Miller and Lyles wrote thin, jokey dialogue scenes to connect the songs: "The plot of ... Shuffle Along was mainly to allow an excuse for the singing and dancing. The four male leads are equally consummate stage artists who go a long way toward finding depth in their underdeveloped characters. For the past few months Wolfe has been racing to finish his own Broadway musical–titled, not so simply, Shuffle Along, or The Making of the Musical … Each of the leading male characters was out to swindle the other. [15] The musical toured successfully throughout the country up to 1924. [17] It was the first Broadway musical to feature a sophisticated African-American love story, rather than a frivolous comic one. An excerpt of Shuffle Along, the musical fight between the two leading characters, was made into a short talkie film by Warner Bros in the early 1930s. 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. The musical launched or boosted the careers of Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, Florence Mills, Fredi Washington and Adelaide Hall. Set designer: Santo Loquasto | California Privacy Rights Ann Roth's costumes replicate the styles of the day with wit and flair. Location: 230 W. 45th St., New York City. Her coquettish spin on "Daddy (Won't You Please Come Home)" is such a saucy treat it ought to be outlawed. It opened at the Broadway Theatre on May 8, 1952, and closed after four performances, but was recorded in an abridged form by RCA Victor, combined with selections from Blackbirds of 1928. The ensemble performs “Broadway Blues” in Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, featuring music and lyrics by … Wolfe has always been one of the theater's boldest cultural archeologists, sifting through the past in adventurous projects like The Colored Museum, The Wild Party and Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, his last collaboration with Glover, 20 years ago. Harlem Renaissance patron Carl Van Vechten (Brooks Ashmanskas, none too subtly multitasking as all of the story's white characters) takes snarky pleasure in his sadly accurate prediction that the musical would not be remembered. The piece premiered on Broadway in 1921, running for 504 performances[3] – an unusually long run during that decade. Perhaps the first jazz musical, the 1921 production of Shuffle Along was a sensation, proving that a book musical by and about people of color … That said, Shuffle Along is a most enjoyable, invigorating new look at a savory and worth thinking about slice of musical history. "[2] But the musical drew repeat audiences due to its jazzy music styles, which were a modern, edgy contrast to the mainstream song-and-dance styles that audiences had seen on Broadway for two decades. However, the married Blake's more aw-shucks manner wins Lottie over, and they begin a long affair. The uncommon ambition behind writer-director George C. Wolfe's project is baked into the show's hefty subtitle: Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. Her sweeping first entrance — wearing a radiant smile and a royal blue velvet shimmy fringe dress — shoots a high-voltage charge through the audience. The show was the baby of two vaudeville duos who met at a 1920 NAACP benefit: F.E. TWITTER "[21] Nevertheless, scholar James Haskins stated that Shuffle Along "started a whole new era for blacks on Broadway, as well as a whole new era for blacks in all creative fields. [2] The show also contributed to the desegregation of theaters in the 1920s, giving many black actors their first chance to appear on Broadway. Theater:Music Box Theatre. Miller and Aubrey Lyles, was a groundbreaking Broadway show that changed the way that theatre audiences saw relationships in the black community.Historians agree that it was not only a big hit in 1921, but that it helped to lead the way towards a new Broadway. The titles are "The Mayor of Jimtown" and "Jimtown Cabaret". [20] In 1929, Harlem, a drama by Wallace Thurman and William Rapp, introduced the Slow Drag, the first African-American social dance to reach Broadway. Despite two subsequent revivals, however, it was largely forgotten, eclipsed by more sophisticated black musicals that followed. Her wacky creations for a Chinese restaurant scene are inspired, as are her flashy threads for the guys when they become suddenly flush with success. Sadly, George C. Wolfe, book writer and director of “Shuffle Along or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed,” doesn’t seem to have figured that out. Shuffle Along, or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed NYT Critic's Pick Broadway, Musical Open Run Music Box Theater, 239 W. 45th St. 212-239-6200 Shuffle Along or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed —that’s the full title—is a meta-musical about the creation … Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. Music director: Shelton Becton Wolfe's book exacerbates that by attempting to cover too much and sacrificing focus as tensions flare, rivalries erupt, opportunities are botched and bitter disappointments ensue. It's almost impossible to stay still in your seat when the internally motorized ensemble of Shuffle Along explodes into one of choreographer Savion Glover's seismic tap routines, or when the thoroughbred leads wrap their velvet pipes around those syncopated jazz sounds. EMAIL ME, Shuffle Along Production Still 2 - H 2016. Mitchell and Porter establish an amusingly testy good cop/bad cop rapport that's distinct from the dynamic between Dixon and Henry, one easygoing, the other slicker, more driven. [citation needed] In 1928, Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1928, starring Adelaide Hall and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, became the longest running all-black show on Broadway (up to that point), running for 518 performances. Executive producers: Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson As told here, another important part of the show's gestation was Lottie Gee (Audra McDonald), an established "chitlin circuit" star who had toured internationally as a soloist and was something of a grand diva by the time she joined the company. There are issues with exposition overload and timeline confusion in the first act, and then an increasingly unwieldy sprawl of multiple narrators and digressive subplots in the second, hitched together at the end with contextual considerations and footnotes. [2], President Harry Truman chose the show's song "I'm Just Wild About Harry" for his campaign anthem. Shuffle Along, a musical with music and lyrics by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake and original book by F.E. The four writers were African-American Vaudeville veterans who first met in 1920 at a NAACP benefit that was held at the newly opened Dunbar Theatre in Philadelphia. [19], After Shuffle Along, nine African-American musicals opened on Broadway between 1921 and 1924. That beautifully played romance wants to be the heart of the show, even if Wolfe's overstuffed shambles of a book too seldom lets it. After touring for almost a year around neighboring states with minimal backing, the production arrived in New York $18,000 in debt and landed at a 63rd Street dive with no orchestra pit or dressing rooms. Original book by F.E. It was only able to book a remote theater on West 63rd Street that had no orchestra pit. And if the resulting historical reappraisal is more successful at charting the creative high than the deflating hangover that came after, the performances alone make it unmissable. Music & lyrics: Noble Sissle & Eubie Blake Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed (Apr 28, 2016 - Jul 24, 2016) Starring: Billy Porter [Aubrey Lyles] MusicalOriginal. Miller & Aubrey Lyles. However, even if the structural limitations of Wolfe's undertaking are unable to support the scope of his noble intentions, it's a genuine thrill to watch this outrageously talented cast herald the achievements of a team that brought innovative black artistry to mainstream American theater. [2], The show was "the first major production in more than a decade to be produced, written and performed entirely by African Americans. It goes without saying at this point that there's nothing the superhuman McDonald can't do onstage, but rarely do we get to see her cut loose in exuberant comedic mode to the extent she does here. Search CurtainUp in the box below Back to Curtainup Main Page PRODUCTION NOTES Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. Shuffle Along is a musical with music and lyrics by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, and a thin revue-style connecting plot about a mayoral race, written by Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles.[1][2]. The cast included Lottie Gee as Jessie Williams, Adelaide Hall as Jazz Jasmine, Gertrude Saunders as Ruth Little, Roger Matthews as Harry Walton, and Noble Sissle as Tom Sharper. Santo Loquasto's scenic design ranges from the eloquent simplicity of a bare stage with a ghost light through elaborate backdrops and flats modeled on those used at the time. The musical opened on May 23, 1921, and became a groundbreaking long-running production, closing after some 500 performances. "Shuffle Along was one of the first shows to provide the right mixture of primitivism and satire, enticement and respectability, blackface humor and romance, to satisfy its customers". There's no quick retreat to the side of the stage here while the chorus kids do their stuff, though the ensemble most definitely takes charge in a bravura sequence called "The Pennsylvania Graveyard Shuffle," a vigorous locomotive tap ballet that marks a grueling statewide series of one-nighters. Among their high spots, Mitchell puts his soaring baritone behind "Swing Along," accompanied by the syncopated slapping of hands on suitcases, to lift the company's spirits when the tour money doesn’t come through; Dixon and Henry are a riot doing the comedy song, "Affectionate Dan"; and Porter sends "Low Down Blues" through the roof, even if it's unclear why Aubrey gets the emotional 11 o'clock number. Tony winners Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, George C. Wolfe, Billy Porter and Savion Glover collaborated on the backstage story. Broadway favorite Audra McDonald will return to the theater next spring in the backstage historical tribute Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. The exchange (between Broadway royalty and a gifted young talent) is a concentrated master class, as Lottie hijacks the song, airborne on her own glorious sounds, before stepping back with a sinking face as she realizes the girl is a serious threat. | Do Not Sell My Personal Information Shuffle Along Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed Music & lyrics by Noble Sissle & Eubie Blake. However, with little funding, it was difficult to meet travel and production expenses, and the cast rarely got paid. There are structural echoes of those shows here, juggling straight-ahead narrative with presentational revue-style episodes, as well as thematic overlap in the probing investigation of history and its contemporary legacy. [8][18], According to theatre historian John Kenrick, "Judged by contemporary standards, much of Shuffle Along would seem offensive ... most of the comedy relied on old minstrel show stereotypes. "Shuffle Along," the final new Broadway musical of the 2015-16 season has achieved all of this. The cast is magnificent. Directed by George C. Wolfe. Book by George C. Wolfe. A new musical based on the making of Shuffle Along – entitled Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed – is scheduled to officially open on April 21, 2016 at Broadway's Music Box Theatre. [2][23], The show was revived at the Mansfield Theatre, New York City, from December 26, 1932, to January 7, 1933, starring Sissle, Blake, Miller, Lyles, Mantan Moreland and Bill Bailey. "[5] According to the Harlem chronicler James Weldon Johnson, Shuffle Along marked a breakthrough for the African-American musical performer and "legitimized the African-American musical, proving to producers and managers that audiences would pay to see African-American talent on Broadway. And this spring’s star-studded Broadway production of Shuffle Along provides a great reason to celebrate. It, and another similar short featuring Miller and Lyles, were found in the Warner Bros archives in 2010, where they had been misfiled. Cast: Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Brandon Victor Dixon, Joshua Henry, Brooks Ashmanskas, Adrienne Warren, Amber Iman, Phillip Attmore, Darius de Haas, Afra Hines, Curtis Holland, Adrienne Howard, Kendrick Jones, Lisa LaTouche, J.C. Montgomery, Erin N. Moore, Janelle Neal, Brittany Parks, Arbender Robinson, Christian Dante White, Joseph Wiggan, Pamela Yasutake, Richard Riaz Yoder One character remarks that the lighter the skin, the more desirable an African-American woman is. [3] It was directed by Walter Brooks, with Eubie Blake playing the piano. February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the accomplishments of African-Americans in all areas of life, including on Broadway. Privacy Policy | If either one wins, he agrees to appoint the other his chief of police. Sitemap | Harry gets the people behind him and wins the next election, as well as the lovely Jessie, and runs Sam and Steve out of town. [30], Sheet music for "Love Will Find a Way", a song from the show, Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, "Shuffle Along: The Musical at the Center of the Harlem Renaissance", "Shuffling Roles: Alterations and Audiences in Shuffle Along", "History of The Musical Stage, 1920s Part III: Black Musicals", "Black History Month – Innovative Musical Contributions: Eubie Blake", "Little Known Black History Fact: Shuffle Along", "The Verdict: Critics Review Broadway's 'Shuffle Along'", "Audra McDonald to Star in New Broadway Musical With Savion Glover", "Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra McDonald Will Reunite on Broadway in, "See Full List of 2016 Tony Award Nominations", "Broadway’s ‘Shuffle Along’ To Close in July, When Audra McDonald Exits", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Shuffle_Along&oldid=972864924, Articles with unsourced statements from January 2013, Articles with unsourced statements from February 2019, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, "I'm Simply Full of Jazz" - Ruth Little and Syncopation Steppers, "Love Will Find a Way" - Jessie Williams and Harry Walton, "Sing Me to Sleep, Dear Mammy" - Harry Walton and Board of Aldermen, "(In) Honeysuckle Time (When Emmaline Said She'd Be Mine)" - Tom Sharper, "Gypsy Blues" - Jessie Williams, Ruth Little and Harry Walton, "Shuffle Along" - Jimtown Pedestrians and Traffic Cop, "Good Night Angeline" - Board of Aldermen, "If You Haven't Been Vamped by a Brownskin, You Haven't Been Vamped at All" - Steve Jenkins, Sam Peck and Jimtown Vamps, "Uncle Tom and Old Black Joe" - Uncle Tom and Old Black Joe, "Everything Reminds Me of You" - Jessie Williams and Harry Walton, "Oriental Blues" - Tom Sharper and Oriental Girls, "I Am Craving for That Kind of Love"/ "Daddy (Won't You Please Come Home)" - Ruth Little, "Baltimore Buzz" - Tom Sharper and Jimtown's Jazz Steppers, "African Dip" - Steve Jenkins and Sam Peck, This page was last edited on 14 August 2020, at 05:28. 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