As soon as the overture started to play for Shuffle Along: or The Making of the Musical Sensations of 1921 and All That Followed, I knew I was in for a treat from a time period I wish desperately to have experienced.
The costumes were GLAMOROUS. It was that imaginative, creative over the top fashion that we so rarely see on black bodies since The Wiz, Dreamgirls and the original Shuffle Along review. It was a dream fantasy for a black performer to watch.
And then Audra McDonald glided onstage and I was in tears. I have been a fan of McDonald since I was in middle school and my first voice teacher told me to look up the song “Stars and the Moon” sung by Audra McDonald, and since then I have been hooked. When I saw her dance onstage Thursday, June 23, 2016 and sing, LIVE, it was a dream come true. I was overcome with emotion and the feeling of being in the right place at the right moment, experiencing excellence.
Another scene stealer was Billy Porter, who played Aubrey Lyles. It is no surprise this man won a Tony. He was PERFORMING! Sang his face off, acted his butt off and looked very dashing in his array of colorful, patterned suits.
Choreographyyyyyyy!(Savion Glover) Man I wished I focused more in tap class. When I tell you formations can make beauty on the stage. The dancers were all over the place, defying gravity and then stomping on it to make elaborate rhythms.
This was a very smart production. If I had not taken Seminar of African American Theatre at Spelman College some of the key points and the underlying storyline might have been lost. There were a lot of facts and historical figures going in and out of the wings. George C. Wolfe (director) is a historical scholarly genius and F.E. Miller, Aubrey Lyles, Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake set the foundation.
George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover
Shuffle Along: or The Making of the Musical Sensations of 1921 and All That Followed chronicles the rise, demise and legacy of an African American theatre company. And with many other companies that followed, once the money and success comes so do the egos.
Stay grounded in the art artist and you’ll always have success.
The final performance of Shuffle Along is set for July 24, 2016. I am so blessed I was able to see this production with the entire original cast.
Enjoy this clip from the show!