Shuffle Along: A Review

There are some great new shows on Broadway and in the West End and one of the newest on Broadway is Shuffle Along.  This review is from Roberta Kappus on the Angry Baby blog:

To attempt to describe Shuffle Along, an original musical comedy, is to do this show a disservice.

It has an excitement and vitality that cannot be conveyed. With a cast led by Audra McDonald (6 Tony awards), Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter (1 Tony each) expectations are high and easily met with the help of a very strong supporting cast. The acting, the singing, the dancing and the costumes are exceptional. This is a show that is dominated by the performances and not necessarily the plot.

The actual title of the show is Shuffle Along or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. It is not a revival of Shuffle Along but the story about it which incorporates numbers from the original.

Act 1 is the dream and the trials of bringing an all black show to Broadway in 1921 and its incredible success. Act 2 deals with the deteriorating relationships of the people involved with this accomplishment. Throughout a narrative by Brian Stokes Mitchell reinforces the story line and provides a learning experience about black theater in America.

Act 1 is very upbeat and celebratory with most of the dance numbers. It also features a song by Brian Stokes Mitchell sung completely a cappella which is stunning. Act 2 is more somber but has an incredible blues number by Billy Porter. Audra McDonald is just exceptional throughout. It is impossible to say which is her best – her acting, her dancing or her singing.

While this is a show worth seeing for its remarkable performances alone, I do not want to let the comedic aspect go unmentioned. There are a number of very good lines throughout the show. The ones dealing with the price of Broadway tickets received the largest laughs. There were also several very clever scenes which left one wondering how they were even conceived.

Without a doubt this is a show worth seeing assuming you can get a ticket for it.

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