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Shuffle Along Or
The Making of the Musical Sensation
of 1921 and All That Followed (2016)

Production still from Shuffle Along, 2016

George C. Wolfe (Book)
Eubie Blake (Composition)
Noble Sissie (Lyrics)

28 April, 2016 – 24 July, 2016

           F. E. Miller and his vaudeville partner Aubrey Lyles conceive the show that was to become Shuffle Along. They meet fellow vaudevillians Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake and decide to team up to create the all-black production. They tour the show, playing one-night stands in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, packing the cast into cheap motels and selling their personal possessions to pay for train fare. A romance develops between the married Eubie Blake and the show's leading lady, Lottie Gee, a veteran vaudeville performer who finally got her chance to star in the show. The creatives discuss whether or not to include a love song and embrace between the two black leads, a controversial experiment that had been received with tar and feathers in the few instances where it had been tried before; fortunately, the audiences accept it. Arriving in New York during the Depression of 1920-1, Shuffle Along is deep in debt and struggles to raise money. It faces stiff competition on Broadway in a season that includes surefire hits from Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.. and George White and it was relegated to a remote theater on West 63rd Street with no orchestra pit. Opening night is a hit! Shuffle Along becomes a long-running success, with popular songs like “I’m Just Wild About Harry.” The partners do not have the same success during the following years and argue about royalties. Lyles announces that he is moving to Africa, and the creators go their separate ways. The romance between Blake and Gee ends. Everyone wants to be remembered for having done something important, but over the decades, the show fades into obscurity. (Soucre: Wikipedia)

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