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Audra McDonald, George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover Team for New Musical 'SHUFFLE ALONG'; Coming to Broadway Next Spring!

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Next spring, Tony Award winners Audra McDonald, George C. Wolfe, and Savion Glover will team up to collaborate on SHUFFLE ALONG, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, a musical about the events that led to the creation of the groundbreaking Eubie Blake-Noble Sissle musical Shuffle Along. Starring Audra McDonald as the 1920's star Lottie Gee, directed by George C. Wolfe -- with a book written by Wolfe -- and choreographed by Savion Glover, the musical marks the first time that the writer/director and choreographer will have worked together since their 1996 hit Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. Previews will begin Monday, March 14, 2016. Opening night is Thursday, April 21, 2016 at the Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street).

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 will have music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Daryl Waters. The production will feature scenic design by Santo Loquasto, costume design by Ann Roth, and lighting design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer.

SHUFFLE ALONG, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed will be produced by Scott Rudin.

AUDRA McDONALD is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actress. A record-breaking six-time Tony Award-winner (Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill), she has also appeared on Broadway in The Secret Garden, Marie Christine (Tony nomination), Henry IV, and 110 in the Shade (Tony nomination). The Juilliard-trained soprano's opera credits include La voix humaine and Send at Houston Grand Opera and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at Los Angeles Opera. On television, she was most recently seen as the Mother Abbess in NBC's "The Sound of Music Live!" and played Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC's "Private Practice" for four seasons. She has received Emmy nominations for "Wit," "A Raisin in the Sun," and for her role as official host of PBS's "Live From Lincoln Center." Other TV credits include "The Good Wife," "Homicide: Life on the Street," "Law & Order: SVU," "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years," "The Bedford Diaries," "Kidnapped," and the 1999 remake of "Annie." On film, she has appeared in Seven Servants, The Object of My Affection, Cradle Will Rock, It Runs in the Family, The Best Thief in the World, She Got Problems, and Rampart. A two-time Grammy Award-winner and exclusive recording artist for Nonesuch Records, she released her fifth solo album for the label, Go Back Home, in 2013. McDonald also maintains a major career as a concert artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world and with leading international orchestras. An ardent proponent of marriage equality and an advocate for at-risk and underprivileged youth, she sits on the boards of Broadway Impact and Covenant House. Of her many roles, her favorites are the ones performed offstage: wife to her husband, actor Will Swenson, and mother to her daughter, Zoe Madeline.

Songwriters NOBLE SISSLE (1889-1975) and EUBIE BLAKE (1887-1983) met in 1915 and soon after wrote their first hit, "It's All Your Fault," which was made popular by nightclub and vaudeville singer Sophie Tucker. They eventually became "The Dixie Duo," a popular black vaudeville act - and the first to forgo performing in blackface. Their first musical, Shuffle Along, was followed in 1924 by The Chocolate Dandies. Blake went on to collaborate with lyricists Andy Razaf and Milton Reddie on the musicals Swing It and Blackbirds of 1930 (the score of which featured the now classic "Memories of You"). Sissle and Blake were among the first African American acts to appear in talking pictures, and during World War II wrote the scores for a number of USO shows. Sissle was a popular bandleader through the 20's and 30's, and in the 1950's was signed as a disc jockey by New York radio station WMGM, where he featured the music of African American recording artists. Blake was also renowned as a ragtime pianist and composer of "The Charleston Rag." During the 1960's, Blake toured the United States and Europe, performing in music festivals and concerts. Late in his life, he was known to a national audience through his appearances on various television variety specials and talk shows, including frequent visits to "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," and an appearance opposite Gregory Hines on "Saturday Night Live." Eubie Blake was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981.

GEORGE C. WOLFE won Tony Awards for his direction of the musical Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk and for Tony Kushner's Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. His additional Broadway productions include Lucky Guy; The Normal Heart; A Free Man of Color; Topdog/Underdog; The Tempest; Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; Angels in America: Perestroika; and the musicals Caroline, or Change; The Wild Party; On The Town; Jelly's Last Jam; and Elaine Stritch's one-woman show At Liberty. Producer of the Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival from 1993-2005, he also wrote the award-winning The Colored Museum, adapted/directed Spunk (Obie Award), created Harlem Song for the Apollo Theatre, and conceived/directed "A Broadway Celebration of the American Musical at the White House." He directed the films You're Not You and "Lackawanna Blues"(HBO), for which he won the Directors Guild Award, a National Board of Review Award, a Christopher Award, and the Humanitas Prize.

SAVION GLOVER, hailed by The New Yorker as "the greatest tap virtuoso of our time," won a Tony Award for his choreography for Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. He made his Broadway debut at the age of 12 in The Tap Dance Kid, and subsequently starred on Broadway in Black and Blue (Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical), and opposite Gregory Hines in George C. Wolfe's Jelly's Last Jam. He choreographed the HBO film "The Rat Pack"; the ABC special "Savion Glover's Nu York"; and "Savion Glover's Stomp, Slide, and Swing: In Performance at the White House" for PBS. He appeared for five years on "Sesame Street" as well as in the Showtime films "The Wall" and "Bojangles," and in the video of Barbra Streisand's Timeless: Live in Concert.

DARYL WATERS collaborated with George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover as the musical supervisor, orchestrator, and the composer of original music for Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk, and with Wolfe as the dance music arranger for Jelly's Last Jam. He won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his orchestrations for Memphis, and was the musical supervisor for Holler If Ya Hear Me, After Midnight, and Street Corner Symphony. Mr. Waters also wrote the dance music arrangements for The Color Purple and original music for the Broadway production of Drowning Crow. A graduate of Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC, he was the longtime music director/arranger for Eartha Kitt.

SCOTT RUDIN Films include: Ex Machina; Top Five; While We're Young; Inherent Vice; The Grand Budapest Hotel; Captain Phillips; Inside Llewyn Davis; Frances Ha; Moonrise Kingdom; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; Moneyball; Margaret; The Social Network; True Grit; Greenberg; It's Complicated; Fantastic Mr. Fox; Julie & Julia; Doubt; No Country for Old Men; There Will Be Blood; The Queen; Notes on a Scandal; Closer; Team America: World Police; School of Rock; The Hours; The Royal Tenenbaums; Zoolander; Sleepy Hollow; Wonder Boys; South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut; The Truman Show; In & Out; Ransom; The First Wives Club; Clueless; Nobody's Fool; The Firm; Searching for Bobby Fischer; Sister Act; The Addams Family. Theatre includes Hamlet; Seven Guitars; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; The Chairs; The Blue Room; Closer; Amy's View; Copenhagen; The Designated Mourner; The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?; Caroline, or Change; The Normal Heart; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Doubt; Faith Healer; The History Boys; Shining City; Stuff Happens; The Vertical Hour; The Year of Magical Thinking; Gypsy; God of Carnage; Fences; Jerusalem; The Motherf**ker With the Hat; The Book of Mormon; One Man, Two Guvnors; Death of a Salesman; The Testament of Mary; Betrayal; A Raisin in the Sun; This Is Our Youth; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; A Delicate Balance; Fish in the Dark; The Audience; The Iceman Cometh; Skylight.

Photo Credit: Javier del Real


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