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Audra McDonald to star in Shuffle Along musical on B'way

Tom Millward
Tom Millward

Tony Award winners Audra McDonald, George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover will collaborate next spring on SHUFFLE ALONG, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, beginning previews at Broadway's Music Box Theatre on 14 March 2016, with an official opening set for 21 April 2016.

The backstage musical, which takes a look at the events that led to the creation of the groundbreaking Eubie Blake-Noble Sissle musical 'Shuffle Along' will star six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald as the 1920's star Lottie Gee. Mr. Wolfe writes the book and is set to direct, with choreography by Mr. Glover. Wolfe and Glover last worked together on 1996's 'Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk.'

Synopsis: "In May 1921, Shuffle Along, a new musical conceived by Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles with music and lyrics by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, became the unlikeliest of hits, significantly altering the face of the Broadway musical as well as that of New York City. In April 2016 — 95 years later — SHUFFLE ALONG, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, will be a backstage musical telling the story of the creation of this transformative but now forgotten show.
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. But 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 repeatedly flocked to West 63rd Street 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. Because of Shuffle Along, Uptown and Downtown met and became one."

SHUFFLE ALONG, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed features music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Daryl Waters, scenic design by Santo Loquasto, costumes by Ann Roth, and lighting by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer. It is produced on Broadway by Scott Rudin.

Audra McDonald won her record-breaking six Tony Awards for 'Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill,' 'The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess,' 'A Raisin in the Sun,' 'Ragtime,' 'Master Class,' and 'Carousel.' She also earned Tony nominations for '110 in the Shade,' and 'Marie Christine,' and her additional Broadway credits include 'Henry IV,' 'Something Wonderful,' and 'The Secret Garden.'

George C. Wolfe's directorial credits on Broadway include Tony Awards for 'Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk,' and 'Angels in America: Millennium Approaches,' and Tony nominations for 'Lucky Guy,' 'The Normal Heart,' 'Caroline, or Change,' 'Angels in America: Perestroika,' and 'Jelly's Last Jam.' Additional Broadway directorial credits include 'A Free Man of Color,' 'Topdog / Underdog,' 'Elaine Stritch At Liberty,' 'The Wild Party,' 'On the Town,' 'The Tempest,' and 'Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.'

Savion Glover won a Tony Award for Best Choreography in 'Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk,' for which he also earned a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. He also received a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for 'Black and Blue,' and performed in 'Jelly's Last Jam,' and 'The Tap Dance Kid.'

- by Tom Millward

Audra McDonald

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