(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2016; via Pam Green.)
“Shuffle Along,” one of the most ambitious and anticipated musicals of the theater season just ended, will close next month, abruptly and unexpectedly, the show’s producers said Thursday.
The July 24 closing is a surprise because the show, which explores the back story and aftermath of one of the first all-black musicals on Broadway, has been doing well at the box office, grossing nearly $973,686 last week, with a healthy average ticket price of $127. Directed by George C. Wolfe, it was nominated for 10 Tony Awards but won none.
The show, with a full title of “Shuffle Along, or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed,” was apparently facing a sharp drop-off in ticket sales this summer, after its leading actress, Audra McDonald, is scheduled to begin a maternity leave. The musician Rhiannon Giddens had been cast as Ms. McDonald’s replacement and had already begun rehearsals.