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Breaking News: Billy Porter, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and More Join Audra McDonald in Musical Revival SHUFFLE ALONG


BroadwayWorld has learned that some of the hottest names on Broadway will take the stage together this spring! Giving up the fabulous footware of KINKY BOOTS, Billy Porter will join a previously announced Audra McDonald in a new musical revival, SHUFFLE ALONG. And returning to Broadway, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Joshua Henry, and Brandon Victor Dixon round out the all-star cast.

Next spring, Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Brandon Victor Dixon, and Joshua Henry will star in Shuffle Along Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, a striking new production that presents both the 1921 musical itself, and additionally details the events that catalyzed the songwriting team of Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, and librettists F.E. Miller and Aubrey Lyles to create this ground-breaking work.

SHUFFLE ALONG will have a new book by George C. Wolfe, will be choreographed by Savion Glover, and directed by Mr. Wolfe. SHUFFLE ALONG 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, the new musical Shuffle Along 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. In a season full of spectacles, such as Sally - a Ziegfeld musical - 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 incipient luminaries as Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, Florence Mills, Fredi Washington, and Adelaide Hall. Because of Shuffle Along, Uptown and Downtown met and became one.

The 2016 SHUFFLE ALONG brings the original show back to glorious life, while simultaneously telling the remarkable backstage story of both its historic creation and how it changed the world it left behind.

Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will star as the 1920s headliner Lottie Gee, the star of Shuffle Along. Tony Award winners Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter will portray the book writers and performers F.E. Miller and Aubrey Lyles, and Tony Award nominees Brandon Victor Dixon and Joshua Henry will play the songwriting team of Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake.

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, sound design by Scott Lehrer, and lighting design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer. Shelton Becton will be the Musical Director.

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

BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL (F.E. Miller). Dubbed "the last leading man" by The New York Times, Stokes has enjoyed a career that spans Broadway, television, film, and concert appearances with the country's finest conductors and orchestras. His Broadway career includes performances in Man of La Mancha (Tony nomination and Helen Hayes Award); Kiss Me Kate (Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards); Ragtime (Tony nomination); August Wilson's King Hedley II (Tony nomination); Kiss of the Spider Woman; Jelly's Last Jam; Lincoln Center Theater's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown; and David Merrick's Oh, Kay! and Mail, the latter of which earned him a Theatre World Award for outstanding Broadway debut. At City Center Encores! he has appeared in Do, Re, Mi and Carnival, and most recently starred in Kismet. His long television career began with a seven-year stint on "Trapper John, MD." Numerous film and TV appearances more recently include One Last Thing, which debuted at this year's Toronto Film Festival, recurring roles on "Crossing Jordan," and "Frasier," PBS's "Great Performances," DreamWorks' The Prince of Egypt (singing "Through Heaven's Eyes"), "Glee," "Mr. Robot," and Jumping the Broom (opposite Angela Bassett). Stokes's musical versatility has kept him in demand by some of the country's finest conductors and orchestras, and he has been invited to the White House and has performed for Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama.

BILLY PORTER (Aubrey Lyles) won a Tony Award for his performance as Lola in Kinky Boots. His other Broadway credits include Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Grease, and Smokey Joe's Café. Off-Broadway, in addition to appearing in the Signature Theatre Company's acclaimed production of Angels in America, he was seen in The Merchant of Venice, House of Lear, and Radiant Baby (the Public Theater), Birdie Blue (Second Stage Theatre), Songs for a New World (WPA Theatre), King Lear and The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler (both for Exit, Pursued By A Bear), as well as his one-man show, Ghetto Superstar. His film and television credits include the Sundance Film Festival features The Broken Hearts Club and Intern, The Humbling (with Al Pacino), Noel (with Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams), the CBS mini-series "Shake Rattle & Roll" as Little Richard, "Twisted," "Law & Order: SVU," "Law & Order," "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," and "The Tonight Show." Most recently Porter guest-starred on Baz Luhrman's new Netflix series, "The Get Down." A Grammy Award winner, Porter's concert credits include opening acts for Rosie O'Donnell and Aretha Franklin, performances at Carnegie Hall, with John McDaniel and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, as well as with The Buffalo Philharmonic, Peter Nero and The Philly Pops, and The Boston Pops. Also a writer, his play While I Yet Live was produced last year at Primary Stages.

BRANDON VICTOR DIXON (Eubie Blake) received a Tony nomination for his performance as Harpo in The Color Purple. He has also appeared on Broadway as Berry Gordy in Motown. At City Center Encores!, he appeared in The Cotton Club Parade with Wynton Marsalis, and he played the role of Royal in House of Flowers. His Off-Broadway credits include Rent and The Scottsboro Boys (for which he received Lucille Lortel, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, and AUDELCO Award nominations). Brandon has appeared regionally as Ray Charles in Ray Charles Live! at the Pasadena Playhouse and Raymond in Far From Heaven at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. On tour, he played the role of Simba in The Lion King. His television credits include Quincy Jones's "American Millennium," "One Life to Live," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," and "The Good Wife." Brandon is the recipient of Columbia University's I.A.L. Diamond Award, the NFAA First Level Award, and he was a Presidential Scholar Semi-Finalist. He is a graduate of Columbia University.

JOSHUA HENRY (Noble Sissle) is a two-time Tony Award nominee for his performances as Haywood Patterson in The Scottsboro Boys and as Flick in Violet. His other Broadway credits include Porgy and Bess, American Idiot, Bring It On: The Musical, and In the Heights, for which he and the company received a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance. His other New York credits include The Cotton Club Parade and The Wiz at City Center Encores!, and the concert version of Parade at Avery Fisher Hall. His regional credits include his professional debut as Judas in Godspell at the Paper Mill Playhouse, and Being Alive at Westport County Playhouse. His television and film credits include "Army Wives," "Kings," "Nip/Tuck," Sex and the City, and Winter's Tale. Mr. Henry is a graduate of the University of Miami.

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 features 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 '20s and '30s, and in the 1950s 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 1960s, 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.

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