Six Degrees of Broadway’s Insanely Exciting Shuffle Along Cast
George C. Wolfe’s SHUFFLE ALONG Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed is shaping up to be the highlight of the spring season. #YayShuffle.
Wolfe’s new book combines the original, groundbreaking 1921 musical with behind the scenes drama surrounding its historic creation and unlikely success. Got it? Good, because here’s where this 2016 revival gets cray.
SHUFFLE ALONG reunites choreographer Savion Glover and George C. Wolfe for the first time since their 1996 collaboration Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, which won both men Tony Awards that season.
The production stars six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald as 1920s headliner Lottie Gee, Shuffle Along’s leading lady.
This revival reunites the B’way icon with three of her former co-stars. First up is Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, who plays F.E. Miller—one of Shuffle Along’s original librettists and stars and one half of the most popular producer-performer teams of the 1920s. McDonald and Stokes famously starred as Sarah and Coalhouse Walker Jr. in the original Broadway cast of Ragtime. Their "Wheels of a Dream" is musical theatre gold, with "New Music" and "Sarah Brown Eyes" coming in as silver and bronze.
Playing Aubrey Lyles, F.E. Miller’s Shuffle Along writing partner and co-star, is Tony Award winner Billy Porter. Now in 2001, Billy and Audra were James Thunder Early and Deena Jones in that epic Actors’ Fund concert of Dreamgirls. (Side note: if you only have one Dreamgirls recording, get this one and just watch the ’82 Tony Awards YouTube video.) PPS: In 2015, Porter directed Wolfe's The Colored Museum at Huntington Theatre, so that's another degree of separation.
The final piece of the reunion equation is two-time Tony Award nominee Joshua Henry. He’s set to co-star as Noble Sissle, a popular bandleader and one half of the famed “Dixie Duo”. Sissle, along with Eubie Blake, wrote the music and lyrics to Shuffle Along. In 2012, Joshua Henry and Audra McDonald shared the stage in the Tony Award-winning revival of Porgy and Bess
Starring as ragtime pianist, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and the other half of “The Dixie Duo” is Tony nominee Brandon Victor Dixon (aka he’s Eubie Blake for those that missed that sentence in the paragraph above). While Dixon hasn’t been in a show with one of the aforementioned stars, he and Joshua Henry have had the most interesting parallel moments. Dixon originated the role of Haywood Patterson in Scottsboro Boys off-Broadway and London, and Henry played Haywood on Broadway; Henry succeeded Dixon in Encores! Cotton Club Parade and then Dixon stepped in for Henry in Encores! recent production of The Wild Party. Now they’ll finally be in the same show, which is almost too much to handle for fans enamored with their rising careers.
SHUFFLE ALONG Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed begins previews at the Music Box Theatre on March 14, 2016.