…Because she’s a woman and that’s what women do.
On yesterday the producers of Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed announced they would be closing the show after a mere three-month run. The show, which has had many sold out performances, will have only played 100 performances by the time it closes next month. A successful show closing after three months — confusing, right?
According to producer Scott Rudin, ticket sales have dropped off significantly for shows after Audra McDonald takes her “maternity leave” (which is not a real thing in the theatre world). So Scotty and the boys thought it made good business sense to go ahead and shut the entire thing down. His exact words were, “We are thrilled that she and her husband, Will Swenson, are experiencing the opportunity to expand their family- and we wish them all good things as they approach the birth of their child this fall… It has, however, become clear that the need for Audra to take a prolonged and unexpected hiatus from the show has determined the unfortunate inevitability of our running at a loss for significantly longer than the show can responsibly absorb.”
Well, f*ck you, Scott.
Listen, we were already feeling some type of way about you being a producer of this project (“We” being myself and anyone else who find people who exchange racially insensitive emails with their colleagues utterly repulsive), but we thought maybe this was your repentance. “We” were wrong. Not only were you an embarrassment early on in the run by making a stink about how this ORIGINAL MUSICAL should be categorized as a revival (boy, what?!) so that it wouldn’t have to go up against Hamilton for the Tony, you now prove that you couldn’t give two sh*ts about the production AT ALL by closing it in 3 months. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Broadway isn’t Hollywood. There are no major checks involved to begin with (unless you stumble into a Hamilton) so you may be in the wrong game from jump, playa. We get it. You and your friends put in $12 million. To the average “living from paycheck to paycheck” American citizen that is a ton of money and we understand that you don’t want to lose too much of it, but 3 months Scott?! That’s all you give this otherworldly cast?
To mount your reason for closing this gem on the shoulders of a woman simply living her life is almost as disrespectful as those emails you sent. Audra had always planned to take a break from the show to reprise her role as Billy Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill in London’s West End. You had hired her replacement, Rhiannon Giddens, who was already in rehearsals. Would this same decision have been made if this had gone as planned? Not to mention Audra canceling her West End run and giving Shuffle Along more time. She is putting other working mothers to shame out on that stage 6 times a week and this is how you throw her under the bus?!
Equal rights for women in the work place is an uphill battle. When you add on pregnancy you usually end up rolling back down that hill wild and fast. Audra McDonald’s only job security is the fact that she is “AUDRA MCDONALD”. If she were anyone else, the possibility of her returning to the show after her pregnancy probably wouldn’t have been an option.
And what about the incredible company of Shuffle Along?! Aside from the person you think the show just could not go on without, there are two other Tony winners on that stage- Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter– along with countless other Tony nominees(Joshua Henry, Brandon Victor Dixon and Adrienne Warren)! The play is written and directed by George C. Wolfe– GEORGE. C. WOLFE! And that choreography by Savion Glover?! PLEASE! It’s an embarrassment of riches. Anyone else would kill to have this cast! These overly qualified actors and actresses have been pouring their hearts and souls into this production. Telling this story has been their reason for existing for more than a year and they deserve the chance to prove themselves in the absence of ONE actress!
The original Shuffle Along that made history and changed an entire culture in 1921 was eventually forgotten, but the same will not be said for the Shuffle Along of 2016! We will remember every single soul that gave this piece life and we will honor the legacy this show leaves behind.
And it’s STILL congratulations Audra!!!
Be sure to get your tickets to Shuffle Along before it closes July 24!
Get Your War Clothes On: Billy Porter Energizes in GLAAD Acceptance Speech
So, I have a question.
In the same line of thought as “innocent until proven guilty,” do we grant the assumption of positive intent in our expectations of our brothers and sister in regards to woke-ness, à la woke until proven problematic?
Now don’t get me wrong, there was no doubt in my heart that Tony and Grammy Award-winner, Billy Porter, was woke. Nope, none. What I wasn’t ready for, was the way he fixed his fingers to pen one of the greatest acceptance speeches of my lifetime, and how he turned the Gospel classic “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired” into a battle song.
The 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards honored Billy Porter with the Vito Russo Award, presented to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.
He started by affirming the room full of members of marginalized communities, with my personal daily mantra: “You are enough. we are enough.”
Since the beginning of time artists are the folks who engage critically and encourage those who think they are powerless to question the status quo.
Brothers and sisters across the room leaned in.
The days of shut up and sing are over.
Alliteration informed and illustrated as Porter preached on remaining “vigilantly visual” as we tell our stories. Acknowledging the reality of our times, he spoke on Number 45:
Where they slipped up this time is in that declaration of war. It’s not only against Black and Brown people and Queer people anymore, it’s against ALL of us. And as a result, the good news is: white folk, and straight folk, and all those fierce women folk, are mad now. And NOW maybe something might get done!
Get. Your. War. Clothes. On.
From slavery to emancipation, to the 13th Amendment, to Jim Crow, to the Civil Rights Movement. From Stonewall to AIDS, to marriage equality— we gotta remember the shoulders who we stand on—the ones who fought and died for those freedoms that we hold so dear. Let’s use these historical strides we’ve made as a nation to empower us as warriors on this battlefield of equality.
Until we can figure out how to love one another unconditionally, no one wins. Freedom. Equality. Justice. Have always come at a cost and evidently the always will.
If that’s not the truth.
Stay strong. Stay vigilante. Stay visible. Stay hopeful. Stay focused. Be brave. Be fierce.
For a full list of this year’s winners, honorees, and guests, visit GLAAD.
Jazmine Sullivan: The Next Singer-Songwriter To Write A Broadway Musical?
We recently caught up with Jazmine Sullivan at The HeLa Project, a multimedia exhibition inspired by the HBO film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Like the rest of us, Jazmine is in awe of the under-told story of Henrietta Lacks and her instrumental role in modern medicine. We further asked about why she got involved with the project and she said: “Anyway I can give light to an extraordinary woman like that, I’m there.”
Some of the integral women in bringing this story to light have their roots in Broadway: Tony Award-winning producer Oprah Winfrey, who not only stars in the film, but also credited as executive producer, and Tony Award winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, who portrays the title character.
We wouldn’t be Broadway Black if we didn’t keep it real.
Let’s be honest, we can’t get enough of 11-year-old Jazmine singing “Home” like she wrote the piece, so we got to asking, and it turns out Jazmine wouldn’t mind putting her pen to paper to create a musical for the Broadway stage.
She said performing on Broadway isn’t in the plans for the near future but, “You never know! I love writing and creating characters!”
God!? Oprah!?!? Stephen Byrd & Alia Jones-Harvey?!?! Who’s going to snatch this up?
Until then, it sounds like we have some new music to expect. What kind of musical would you like to see from Ms. Sullivan? Sound off below in the comments!
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