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Shuffle Along: Broadway’s First Black Musical Proved That White Audiences Would Pay To See Black Musical Comedies

Written by Rewindingblack

, a comedy by composer Eubie Blake and lyricist Noble Sissle which featured an all- cast, was the most significant achievement in black theatre of its time.

Shuffle Along opened at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., in late March, 1921 for two weeks. It was later performed at the Sixty-third Street Theatre in New York City, New York in May, 1921.

shuffle along

Promoters and theatre managers were skeptical at first as to whether white audiences would accept a colored musical because no black show had been successful on in over 12 years.

The musical mélange became an instant hit because of the energetic, vivacious, torso-twisting dancers that gave birth to the speed shows that were to characterize black productions thereafter.

 It also won the distinction of becoming an actor’s show during its more than its 200 performances. It proved that white audiences would pay to see black musical comedies on Broadway.

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