“Shuffle Along” is a brilliant history play

Broadway is having a hot and heavy fling with history, with “Hamilton” as the love object. For me the bigger news is “Shuffle Along,” an audacious show that chronicles not just the original 1921 “musical sensation” but black entertainment in 20th century America. What’s more, it’s a workplace drama: We get to know several of the actors who starred in the original “Shuffle Along,” and in the epilogue they tell us how their lives played out. Watching one of them put on blackface—and explain why he feels he must do that—is an oral history in itself. Kudos to the hugely talented creators, cast, and crew, and in particular to whoever decided to include the original 1921 program inside the current Playbill (see above) and to use archival materials as curtain scrims (see below). Brilliant touches!

April 27 Shuffle red curtain

April 27 Shuffle orig cast curtain