Simply Full of Jazz! Meet the Whole Cast of 'SHUFFLE ALONG', Opening Tonight on Broadway
A re-imagined version of the 1921 musical SHUFFLE ALONG, one of the earliest stage hits starring, written and directed by African-Americans, opens tonight, April 28, on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre. SHUFFLE ALONG has a new book and is directed by George C. Wolfe, choreographed by Savion Glover. Scroll down to learn more about the company, plus watch SUNDAY MORNING's recent behind-the-scenes look at the show!
Joining six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, Tony Award winners Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter, and Tony Award nominees Brandon Victor Dixon and Joshua Henry in the 30-member cast of are Brooks Ashmanskas, Felicia Boswell, Amber Iman, Adrienne Warren, Phillip Attmore, Darius de Haas, C.K. Edwards, Afra Hines, Curtis Holland, Adrienne Howard, Kendrick Jones, Lisa LaTouche, Alicia Lundgren, J.C. Montgomery, Erin N. Moore, Janelle Neal, Brittany Parks, Arbender Robinson, Karissa Royster, Britton Smith, Zurin Villanueva, Christian Dante White, J.L. Williams, Pamela Yasutake, and Richard Riaz Yoder.
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.
AUDRA McDONALD (LOTTIE GEE)
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 television 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.
BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL (F.E. MILLER)
Dubbed "the last leading man" by The New York Times, Brian Stokes Mitchell 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 Award 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; Oh, Kay!; and Mail, 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 television appearances more recently include One Last Thing, which debuted at the 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. His 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 performed for Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama.
BILLY PORTER (AUBREY LYLES)
Billy Porter 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 (Public Theater), Birdie Blue (Second Stage Theatre), Songs for a New World (WPA Theater), 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, Noel, the CBS miniseries "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." 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)
Brandon Victor Dixon received a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Harpo in The Color Purple. He has also appeared on Broadway as Berry Gordy in Motown: The Musical. At City Center Encores! he appeared in Cotton Club Parade with Wynton Marsalis, and as 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). Dixon has appeared regionally as Ray Charles in Ray Charles Live! at the Pasadena Playhouse and as 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 "One Life to Live," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "The Good Wife," and Quincy Jones's "America's Millennium." Dixon is the recipient of Columbia University's I.A.L. Diamond Award, the NFAA First Level Award, and was a Presidential Scholar Semi-Finalist. He is a graduate of Columbia University.
JOSHUA HENRY (NOBLE SISSLE)
Joshua Henry 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 The Gershwins' 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 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 Paper Mill Playhouse and Being Alive at Westport Country Playhouse. His television and film credits include "Army Wives," "Kings," "Nip/Tuck," Sex and the City, and Winter's Tale.
BROOKS ASHMANSKAS (AL, IZZY, MR. BROADWAY, CARLO)
Broadway: Something Rotten!; Bullets Over Broadway; Promises, Promises; Present Laughter; The Ritz; Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me (Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations); The Producers; Gypsy; Dream; and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Off-Broadway: Wise Guys, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Labor Day, London Suite, and Songs for a New World. Regional: Ford's Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, A Contemporary Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Huntington Theatre Company, and others. National tours: Cinderella andNoises Off. Film: Julie & Julia. Television: "The Good Wife."
ADRIENNE WARREN (GERTRUDE SAUNDERS, FLORENCE MILLS)
Adrienne Warren made her Broadway debut in Bring It On: The Musical after originating the role of Danielle at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. She reprised the role again on the national tour. Other credits include Dreamgirls (Apollo Theater and national tour) and The Wiz (City Center Encores!).
Amber Iman made her Broadway debut as Nina in Soul Doctor (Clive Barnes Award nomination). Off-Broadway: Rent and A Civil War Christmas. Regional: Aldonza in Man of La Mancha at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.
Broadway: On The Twentieth Century, After Midnight, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Off-Broadway:Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (City Center Encores!). Regional and touring: Phillip Attmore: Moments Musicaux (Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris), Fosse (international and national tours), Stormy Weather (Pasadena Playhouse), and 42nd Street (Moscow Youth Palace). Television: "So You Think You Can Dance," "Judging Amy," "Sisters," "Silent Tongue," and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
DARIUS de HAAS
Broadway: Kiss of the Spider Woman, Carousel, Rent, The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm, Marie Christine, and the 20th anniversary concerts of Dreamgirls and Hair. Off-Broadway, regional, and touring: Running Man (HERE theater, Obie Award), Children of Eden(Paper Mill Playhouse), Saturn Returns (Public Theater), Cry the Beloved Country (Goodman Theatre), The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Playwrights Horizons), Once On This Island (national tour), and Jesus Christ Superstar GOSPEL (Alliance Theatre). He has been a guest soloist at Carnegie Hall, London's Royal Festival Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Kennedy Center, Town Hall, Lincoln Center, Constitution Hall, and St. John the Divine.
Broadway: Soul Doctor, Ghost: The Musical, In the Heights, and Wicked. Television: "Boardwalk Empire." Other: The Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Rockette).
Curtis Holland appeared as a contestant on season ten of "So You Think You Can Dance" at the age of 18, making it into the "Top 14" bracket of performers. Other credits include Head Over Heels and Guys and Dolls at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, as well as the So You Think You Can Dance Live Tour.
Regional and touring: Kiss Me, Kate (Barrington Stage Company) and Memphis (national tour). Other: The Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Rockette). Film: Bolden. Television: season eight of "America's Got Talent."
Broadway: The Scottsboro Boys (also at the Vineyard Theatre and Philadelphia's Suzanne Roberts Theatre). Off-Broadway: Stairway to Paradise (City Center Encores!). Other theatre credits: Bubbling Brown Sugar (Fox Theatre, Atlanta), Looking for Josephine (Opéra Comique, Paris), and Broadway by the Year (Town Hall).
Lisa LaTouche has performed as a dancer in several Canadian theatre productions. She is a co-director and guest artist with the Chicago Human Rhythm Project and is a faculty member at The School at Jacob's Pillow. She began her career in Calgary, Alberta, Canada before moving to New York in 2008. Since then her credits include Stomp! (Orpheum Theatre, national tour) and Sophisticated Ladies (Cotton Club).
Broadway: Big Fish, The Scottsboro Boys, The Color Purple, Parade, Swing!, Thou Shalt Not, The Little Mermaid, The Boys From Syracuse, Bye Bye Birdie, and Smokey Joe's Café. Television: "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "A Gifted Man," "Boardwalk Empire," and "Blue Bloods."
ERIN N. MOORE
Broadway: After Midnight and Follies. Off-Broadway: Cotton Club Parade (City Center Encores!). Regional: Follies (Kennedy Center and Ahmanson Theater, Los Angeles), and Aladdin and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (St. Louis Municipal Opera). Dance: Philadanco. Opera: Rigoletto (Metropolitan Opera). Film: American Hustle. Television: "Boardwalk Empire" and "Saturday Night Live."
Regional: Irving Berlin's White Christmas (also national tour), Thoroughly Modern Millie, Little Shop of Horrors, Seesaw, Dreamgirls,Black & Blue, Aida, and many more. Neal performed as a "June Taylor Dancer" in Dancers on Air at New York's City Center.
Dance: Super Bowl XLVII Half-Time Show with Beyoncé, Glee Live! (international tour), Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival with Kanye West, NBA All-Star Game with Rihanna, 50th Anniversary Grammy Award Show with Rihanna, MTV Movie Awards with Snoop Dogg, and the ESPYS with Justin Timberlake. Film: Annie (2014) and Janky Promoters. Television: "Teen Beach 2," "90210," "Shake It Up," "Glee," and "How I Met Your Mother." Music Video: Beyoncé's "Run The World."
Broadway: LES MISERABLES, Hairspray, The Little Mermaid, Hair, Ragtime, The Book of Mormon, The Lion King, and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. He is also a vocalist with Disney Symphony Pops.
Karissa Royster is making her Broadway debut in Shuffle Along. She was a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar who has been involved in Jumpstart, a national early childhood education program, and has interned for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro when he was mayor of San Antonio, Texas.
CHRISTIAN DANTE WHITE
Broadway: The Book of Mormon (also national tour) and The Scottsboro Boys (also Off-Broadway). Other: Motown: The Musical(national tour), The Wiz (City Center Encores!), Jersey Boys (Las Vegas), and Hairspray (Muny).
Pamela Yasutake has performed extensively in her hometown of Seattle and has studied with such notable dancers and choreographers as the Nicholas Brothers, Prince Spencer, Bunny Briggs, Dianne Walker, Ted Levy, and Derick Grant. She is a member of Chloe Arnold's Syncopated Ladies, an all-female tap dancing band who won the "So You Think You Can Dance" season 11 "crew battle."
RICHARD RIAZ YODER
Broadway: On The Twentieth Century and Irving Berlin's White Christmas. New York: Top Hat (dance lab), Spring Alive, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Tap Awards Ceremony, and Voices of Bahá. National tours: 42nd Street and Irving Berlin's White Christmas. Regional: Ain't Misbehavin', The Great American Mousical, My One and Only, Sophisticated Ladies, Radio Girl, Aida, 42nd Street, Hairspray, Godspell, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Television: "Len Goodman: The Imagination of Fred Astaire."