Nora Dominick ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Stage Editor
The Queen of Broadway may be returning to the stage sooner than you think. It was recently announced that Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will grace the Great White Way in the Spring of 2016 in a new musical.
Vaudeville isn’t dead, according to Broadway. McDonald, George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover are teaming up to collaborate on Shuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. The new musical will dive deep into the background of some of the great vaudeville stars in NYC.
McDonald will play Lottie Gee, the 1920s performer who appeared in the cast of Shuffle Along. The 1921 musical by Flournoy Miller, Aubrey Lyles, Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle altered the face of Broadway by giving several heavy hitting black performers their first Broadway credits. The show is credited with helping launch the careers of Broadway heavyweights like Josephine Baker, Florence Mills and Paul Robeson. By the time Shuffle Along left town and all seemed lost for this non-flashy musical during beginnings of The Great Depression. With an infection jazz score and amazing dance numbers, Shuffle Along sparked an amazing movement on Broadway and helped usher in a new and exciting era. Fans of the show included, George Gershwin, Fanny Brice, Al Jolson, Langston Hughes and famed critic George Jean Nathan. The show may have only run 504 performances but it made a splash and touched the hearts of many.
McDonald is of course no stranger to the Broadway stage. She has taken home Tony Award for her roles in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, Porgy and Bess and most recently Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. As if conquering the stage wasn’t enough she has appeared in The Sound of Music Live!, Annie and Shonda Rhimes‘ hit ABC show, Private Practice. In upcoming months, McDonald will also take her historic Tony Award winning performance as Billie Holiday in an HBO special. McDonald astounds in everything she takes part in and this upcoming role is sure to be another one for the history books.
Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed is said to have music, arrangements and orchestration by Daryl Waters and will be directed and written by Wolfe. This marks the first collaboration between Waters and Wolfe since their 1996 hit Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk. The production will also feature scenic design by Santo Loquasto, costume design by Ann Roth and lighting design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer.
Previews for Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed will start on March 14, 2016 and opening night is tentatively set for April 21 at the Music Box Theatre in NYC.