'Shuffle Along' deemed a new musical, must face 'Hamilton'

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — The Broadway musical "Shuffle Along" will have to tap-dance against a hip-hop monster for attention at the Tony Awards.

The Tony Awards administration committee voted Friday that the show starring Audra McDonald is a new musical, a decision that puts it in the same Tony category as the megahit "Hamilton." Whether the show was a revival or brand new was a question mark since it has original songs but a completely new story.

The show's producers, led by Scott Rudin, had lobbied the Tony committee — which will announce nominees on Tuesday morning — to have the show considered a revival, in part to side-step going head-to-head with the very popular new musical "Hamilton." The Tony committee disagreed.

As a new show, "Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed" will now face off against potential candidates such as "Hamilton," ''Waitress," ''American Psycho," ''Bright Star," ''Tuck Everlasting" and "On Your Feet!"

The show, which opened Thursday, explores the groundbreaking 95-year-old musical "Shuffle Along," one of the first Broadway shows starring, written and directed by African-Americans and the first show with a jazz score.

It stars six-time Tony winner McDonald, Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, Tony winner Billy Porter and Tony nominees Brandon Victor Dixon and Joshua Henry. Savion Glover did the choreography.

In any other season on Broadway, such a line-up of talent would be the sensation, but "Hamilton," Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip-hop-flavored biography about the first U.S. Treasury Secretary, has taken all the attention .

Instead of reviving "Shuffle Along" as it was in 1921, director and writer George C. Wolfe has reframed it as a musical about the making of a musical. In Act 1, we follow the show from backstage as it tours and matures. The second act is about the fallout from success.

The show is packed with songs by noted composers Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, including "Love Will Find a Way," ''Honeysuckle Time" and "(I'm Just) Wild About Harry."

This year's Tony nomination committee is composed of some 50 theater professionals, including playwright Stephen Karam, director Trip Cullman, composers Tom Kitt and Laurence O'Keefe, and the executive directors of The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Theatre Development Fund and Joyce Theater. Foundation.

The awards will be handed out June 12, with James Corden playing host from the Beacon Theatre.


Online: http://shufflealongbroadway.com


Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits