Shuffle Along

Or, the Making of the Musical
Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Musicals: Hot Dancing and All That Jazz

The multi-Tony winner Hamilton, which won eleven of the coveted statues, The Color Purple garnered two. Cynthia Erivo won for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Celie. Although Shuffle Along did not receive a Tony, it did receive the Actor Equity Award for Outstanding Broadway Chorus.

It is noteworthy that the revival of Shuffle Along, featuring Audra McDonald (winner of six Tonys in her career), Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter and choreographer Savion Glover, was given a revival and is still running in the 2015-2016 season.

Eubie Blake , Noble Sissle's, Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles, Shuffle Along or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, that featured songs like, "Baltimore Buzz," "Bandana Days," "I'm Just Wild About Harry," "Honeysuckle Time," and "Love Will Find a Way" was originally the trail blazer that set the stage for musicals along the Great White Way. As the playbill states:

"In May 1921, the new musical Shuffle Along, starring Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson and Gertrude Saunders, 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. But with an infectious jazz score and exuberant dancing, Shuffle Along ignited not just Broadway, but all of New York City. Because of Shuffle Along, Uptown and Downtown met -- and became one."

Indeed the ground breaking musical was the prototype of what John McWhorter of American Theatre states in his article From "Shuffle Along' to 'Hamilton,' a look at how black music has shaped the sound of U.S. musical theatre "The underlying language of musicals ranging from Anything Goes to Guys and Dolls to Sweet Charity traces its genealogy to the shot in the arm that Shuffle Along and its progenitors gave to American theatre music.

©L'cinda Scott-McCall