Taking over a lead role early in the run of a high cost, highly anticipated musical could be daunting for any performer. Taking over the lead role for an actress with more Tony awards than any other woman in history could be down right horrific.
So, no pressure to the sweet soul who will step into Audra McDonald’s shoes in Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed when the six-time Tony award winner takes a scheduled hiatus June 21 – Sept. 25 to fulfill a prior commitment. And OH, what large tap-dancing shoes they are. Here’s who we think has the chops to succeed the diva and thrill the masses while she’s away:
We have to imagine that production knew Audra would be stepping out for a few months before completing casting and thus prepared accordingly when adding this stunning performer to the Shuffle Along roster. This lady would be beautifully suited to assume the role of “Lottie Gee” in Audra’s absence. Warren, who is most known for her role in Bring it On: The Musical, is a strong singer, skilled dancer and versatile actress, as seen in her roles on shows like “Blue Bloods” and “Orange is the New Black.”
For those of you who haven’t seen Something Rotten, maybe you’re not familiar with this tap-dancing kid, but the Baptized by Broadway star is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Not only is she a hoofin’ fool, but a powerhouse belter who could definitely keep up with the likes of Savion Glover, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter. Something we’d LOVE to watch.
Vanessa Williams, Brenda Braxton, Adriane Lenox
Shuffle Along could take a page out of the After Midnight book and feature a rotating lineup of special guests over the three month span to appeal to audiences in the headliner’s absence. These three ladies are just a few of the guest entertainers who made After Midnight special and could definitely bring the same star power to the Shuffle Along stage. Williams with that velvety voice, Braxton with those flawless moves and Lenox…just being Lenox, would each make it a beautifully unique and exciting experience.
There have been no details as to what Audra’s “prior commitment” is, but with “Hello Again!” and the “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar” HBO Special in the works, it could be anything. McDonald will return to Shuffle Along Sept. 27, but we will be waiting with bated breathe to hear who she’ll pass the torch to and you know Broadway Black will have it first. Hopefully, they’ll take our suggestions into consideration. Stay tuned!