Producer Scott Rudin said today that 6-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald is returning to Broadway next March to star in a show that looks at the making of the 1921 hit “Shuffle Along” – one of the first Broadway musicals to be written and directed by African Americans.
To be titled “Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed,” the show will have a story by George C. Wolfe, who will also direct, with choreography by Savion Glover, who last worked together with Wolfe on the 1996 hit “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk.”
Previews are to begin March 14, 2016, at the Music Box Theatre.
The original “Shuffle Along” was a dance-heavy show that centered on a 2-way mayor race in a small Southern town.
According to Broadway.com: “In May 1921, 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 comedy—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. However, with an infectious jazz score and exuberant dancing, Shuffle Along 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 flocked to see a cast which—during its run of 504 performances—featured such soon-to-be theatrical luminaries as Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, Florence Mills, Fredi Washington and Adelaide Hall.”
“Shuffle Along” was written by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle (music and lyrics).
News of the upcoming production of “Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed,” comes a week after Oprah Winfrey revealed that she will not be making her Broadway debut in a revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “‘Night, Mother,” which she was to star in opposite Audra McDonald, and directed by George C. Wolfe as well.
With Oprah pulling out, McDonald and Wolfe have obviously moved on to a new project.
McDonald won a Tony the last time she was on Broadway in 2014, playing Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” She also won Tonys for “Carousel,” ”Master Class,” ”Ragtime,” ”A Raisin in the Sun” and “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.”
She might be in line for a seventh Tony next year.