Shuffle Along: The Musical You Need To Know
Start writing a post
Entertainment

Shuffle Along: The Musical You Need To Know

The Broadway show that should have been remembered.

23
Shuffle Along: The Musical You Need To Know
shufflealongbroadway

Lights up on a stage that's already tapping and teeming with vivacity. A curtain draws open, revealing a floor full of vibrant colored costumes and a beautifully lit scene. "Shuffle Along" begins in this auspicious way. Well, not the original 1921 version of "Shuffle Along." I don't know how that began, but gosh I sure would have liked to.

The Broadway that we know today just closed "Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed," and I was lucky enough to catch it in the final weekend of its 100-performance run. It was as close as I could have gotten to seeing the original production, and for having seen that I am very fortunate.

This year's musical tells the story of the making of the original show, and it's a narrative that America sadly seems to have forgotten.In 1920, four African American veterans of Vaudeville got together to write a musical, an unprecedented feat for them. These men had never written such a show before, nor had a Broadway show ever been written, produced, and directed by a team consisting only of men of color. People were skeptical, no one wanted to invest in it, but the show went on. Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake, Flournoy Miller, and Aubrey Lyles found their cast and created magic. The show was poorly-funded, unable to pay its castmembers, and $18,000 in debt by the end of its first year of touring. But the original Vaudevillian four were troupers and troopers. There was no quitting allowed and the cast of this show soon found a home in New York. It was a building that was too small and without the orchestra pit required for the show on West 63rd Street. Billy Porter as Aubrey Lyles cracks that, "That's not Broadway, Broadway is 42nd Street". Our audience bursts out laughing from our seats inside the Music Box Theater on 45th in Midtown. It's a bit of a surreal moment, and I'm brought from the conceptual back to reality.

I'm sitting in a theater filled to the brim with people from all over the world, thrilled to be seeing this play, this beautiful cast of black men and women telling the story of what happened so long ago. The story of what history has left out.

"Shuffle Along" was an achievement that gave fame to the likes of Josephine Baker and Adelaide Hall. This musical gave us songs like, "I'm Just Wild About Harry", and "Love Will Find A Way". Songs that we know, but we don't know them from this show. Even Gershwin's tune for his song "I Got Rhythm" is rumored to have been taken from the improvised riff from a clarinet player who was part of the original Shuffle's band. Snagged, stolen perhaps. This show laid out a scaffolding of genius scores, an incredible cast and well-known songs, and people began to build.

By the way, the original musical did become a raging success after all. The company settled into their little theater on 63rd and made $9 million.

It changed the way people saw musical theatre, through syncopation and tap and lyric. It began to integrate. It began to incite change.

But we don't remember.

I can't think of a good enough reason for us not to. Sure, the four creators fought and separated. The road to production and touring was tumultuous and uneven. But legacies live on and even cast members lived on into the late 20th century. I think we choose to forget.

For that, I'm grateful for a new show. It's not a revival. but a reminder. A refresher course or introduction to one of Broadway's most historic and monumental movements.

Led by a cast of today's Broadway veterans like Billy Porter, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Joshua Henry, Brandon Victor Dixon and Audra McDonald, a story is stirred up again and life is breathed back into history in living color.

We owe it all to the original four.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Student Life

9 Things Tall People Are Tired Of Hearing

Yep. The weather is fine up here... I've totally never heard that before.

280
pexels

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE being tall. Sometimes I even wish I was taller. One of the downsides of being tall however, is having to put up with ridiculous questions and statements. I can assure that all tall people are tired of being asked what the weather is like "up here", but here are a few other things we don't want to hear anymore.

Keep Reading... Show less

We truly love it here in the Badger State. Here are a few things Wisconsinites can relate to.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Five Types Of People In Fall

From yummy pumpkin spice lattes to scary movies, fall has it all and then some.

1858
Destination Logan County Illinois

Oh fall, the most marvelous time of year...right? Every approaches fall differently, some pumpkin spice-tastically and some not so enthusiastically. We can't all be Autumn lovers, so here are five types of people in fall. Grab a cup of hot coca, sit back, and enjoy.

Keep Reading... Show less
https://unsplash.com/photos/XdbUsFkAwqA

If you're like me, by this time of year you're over summer. The beach, the sunshine, and the heat were all great, but now we're itching for blanket scarves, football, and pumpkin spice EVERYTHING! As the new season approaches, your relationship can benefit from some old traditional dates and some new fresh ideas! Here are a couple great date ideas for you and your boo to try out this fall.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

Social Media Or Soul Media

To the generation that cares way too much about affirmation.

4760
Emma Smith
  • This semester I am taking the ever so famous class, Writing 101. Walking into it, I had heard the horror stories about each major assignment. I have to admit, it’s not a class that I am fond of. But, major assignment #2 got me thinking, we had to create a research question based off of a topic that we are interested in.

Two weeks prior, I watched a very interesting documentary on Netflix. Miss Representation was recommended to me by one of my friends and I have to say the topic is absolutely mind blowing. Social Media and Female Body Image. How Social Media makes girls see this unnatural perfection of ‘beauty’ that really doesn’t exist. But female body image isn’t the only thing affected by social media.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments