CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH!
Black History Month Theater Series:
Even from an early age, Eubie's dedication and passion for music, specifically ragtime, was unrestrainable. Because it was often viewed as morally dubious music, Blake's devoutly religious mother forbid him to play the sinful tunes as a young man. Ironically, it's because of artists including and similar to Eubie that ragtime and it's brother jazz have become quintessential American art forms. Both of which comprised the score for he and Sissle's SHUFFLE ALONG.
Blake’s Broadway writing debut, SHUFFLE ALONG was an important work not only for his career, but for Broadway and race relations in America as a whole. Before the unexpected success of the show, a cast of entirely black actors was unheard of. Even more foreign to theatre-goers, though, was a creative team comprised of mostly black artists. SHUFFLE ALONG had both. Despite its sea of doubters, on May 23, 1921, SHUFFLE ALONG opened and was hailed as a massive critical success from newspapers and critics both black and white. Furthermore, from the original company of performers emerged the great Paul Robeson and beautiful Josephine Baker.
Despite its groundbreaking inclusion of artists of color, the style and themes of SHUFFLE ALONG remained in line with the exploitative tropes of the time. In order to succeed, Eubie Blake and his fellow artists were forced to cater to the ideas and expectations of the white audience members. Nevertheless, the barriers SHUFFLE ALONG was able to shatter were monumental for society and Eubie. Broadway: The American Musical quotes him as having said “The proudest day of my life was when Shuffle Along opened. At the intermission, all these white people kept saying, ‘I would like to touch him, the man who wrote the music.’" Eubies concludes by saying, "At last, I’m a human being.” #blackhistorymonth #blackboymagic #theater #arts #broadway #broadwayblack #vaudeville #blacklegacy #ragtime #jazz #shufflealong #shufflealongbroadway