Theater Talk

FULL EPISODE

Shuffle Along

Director/Librettist George C. Wolfe talks about creating the new musical Shuffle Along, or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, which is about the groundbreaking 1921 Broadway hit Shuffle Along. Wolfe is joined by TONY Award-nominated actors Brandon Victor Dixon and Adrienne Warren. Shuffle Along is nominated for 10 TONY Awards this year, including Best Musical.

AIRED: May 28, 2016 | 0:26:45
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TRANSCRIPT

>> HASKINS: Coming up on

"Theater Talk"...

>> WOLFE: An audience can tell

when they're in the presence of

a truth that was discovered just

for them, and they can tell when

you've recycled something.

>> HASKINS: Ah.

>> WOLFE: They can smell it.

They can feel it.

>> HASKINS: "Theater Talk" is

made possible in part by...

♪♪

>> CHORUS: ♪ Oh, I'm just wild

about Harry ♪

♪ And Harry's wild about me

>> HASKINS: From New York City,

this is "Theater Talk."

I'm Susan Haskins.

>> RIEDEL: And I'm

Michael Riedel of

theNew York Post.

Now, Susan, there was a debate

about a new Broadway musical

called "Shuffle Along, Or The

Making of the Musical Sensation

of 1921 and All That Followed."

And the debate was, for the

Tony Awards, is "Shuffle Along"

a revival of "Shuffle Along"

from 1921, or is it a new

musical that is taking a look at

the importance of

"Shuffle Along"?

I think the debate is immaterial

because what it is is a great

new American musical at the

Music Box, directed by our good

friend and created by our good

friend George C. Wolfe...

>> WOLFE: Hello, hello.

>> RIEDEL: Welcome back to

"Theater Talk."

>> WOLFE: Glad to be here.

>> RIEDEL: ...starring

Tony-nominated, the beautiful

Adrienne Warren as

Gertrude Saunders and

Florence Mills.

>> WARREN: Yes. Hello.

>> RIEDEL: We all are gonna wear

your dress.

[ Laughter ]

>> WARREN: Okay, deal.

>> RIEDEL: [ Laughs ] And also

starring as Eubie Blake, one of

the creators of "Shuffle Along,"

our good friend

Brandon Victor Dixon.

>> DIXON: Well, I put the dress

on before we started.

>> RIEDEL: I know.

You look fabulous in it, though,

I must say.

Brandon Victor Dixon.

Welcome to "Theater Talk."

All right, George.

What was it that inspired you,

got you thinking about doing a

musical about something that

many of us had forgotten

about -- an old '21 revue?

We love the songs, we love the

music from it, but who has gave

"Shuffle Along" a thought in all

these years?

>> WOLFE: Well, because we all

had forgotten it, and that's why

I wanted to.

And the more I researched about

it and the more I got to know

inside of it, the more I found

it really fascinating that

something that was so

monumentally significant in

1921, 63rd -- It was at the

63rd Street Theatre, that great

theater -- hello -- and 63rd was

a two-way street.

They turned 63rd Street into a

one-way street because traffic

was so busy with people rushing

to see "Shuffle Along."

It had three touring companies.

It made $9 million.

It ran for 504 performances.

It integrated Broadway.

It was the first time there was

a jazz score, so how -- And it

was the first time that a

women's chorus on Broadway was

like a hoofing, dancing

chorus, as opposed to being

decorative.

>> RIEDEL: Right.

>> WOLFE: So it had all these

innovations, both cultural and

in terms of American musical

theater and in terms of

New York City.

How could something that was so

culturally significant end up a

footnote that was a footnote to

a footnote?

And so that became -- And just

that dichotomy became really,

really fascinating to me.

And then, the more I read about

it, the more I realized that it

was embraced by Uptown and

Downtown, by highbrow and

lowbrow [Indistinct]

George Jean Nathan came to see

it five times.

Langston Hughes came to

Columbia University because he

wanted to go see

"Shuffle Along."

So it had all these fans that

were extraordinary.

Paul Robeson was a replacement.

Josephine Baker tried to join it

when she was 15.

She couldn't get in, so she

snuck into a rogue company.

And all these stories just

became more and more intriguing

to me, and I went, "This sings."

Hello, hello.

[ Laughter ]

So, you know, it's a musical.

Hey, kids.

>> RIEDEL: But why do you think

it became a footnote?

If it had that impact, why did

it fall by the wayside?

>> WOLFE: Because history is

written by those who survive,

and a lot of people didn't.

And, also, I think that -- There

was a revival in 1933 that was

not so well-received, because

talkies were taking over and the

Depression was going on.

And then there was an ill-fated

one that happened in 1952, and

sort of its Southernisms -- And,

also I think they lost control

of the show.

Producers put in new songs

throughout the book and it

just -- So it wasn't viewed

favorably by the times -- not

The Times "times," but the

times, the days.

So I think that didn't help,

but, also, it's 1921 and it's an

all-black show and it's about a

Southern town and it's hokey and

foolish.

But it's also a brilliant score.

So I think time was not kind

because time is frequently not

kind to shows that are

significant -- unless somebody's

telling us.

>> RIEDEL: And it gave us the

standard "I'm Just Wild About

Harry."

>> WOLFE: Exactly.

>> RIEDEL: Adrienne and Brandon,

you guys are probably

musical-theater kids, right?

>> WARREN: Yes.

>> DIXON: We'll see where you're

going with this.

[ Laughter ]

>> RIEDEL: I'm not calling you a

show queen.

Would you relax, Brandon?

>> WOLFE: You just admitted to

trying on Adrienne's dress.

>> WARREN: I know! You did!

>> WOLFE: It's too late now.

>> DIXON: Not about that.

>> WOLFE: Okay. Go ahead.

>> RIEDEL: Did you have any idea

what "Shuffle Along" was when

you were a kid growing up,

learning about musicals and --

>> WARREN: No idea.

I didn't know anything about the

show until I started talking to

George about it.

And then I felt horrible that I

didn't know this history, 'cause

it's my history.

It's all of our history.

>> RIEDEL: Yeah.

>> DIXON: Yeah, I didn't know

either, and one of the reasons

that -- It was a joke but -- I

mean, as much as I've done music

theater and I've grown up with

certain chunks of it, there are

significant gaps in my knowledge

of musical theater and the

history of musical theater and

certain shows.

I mean, he's nodding his head

'cause he scoffs at me when he

makes certain references that I

don't know.

But --

[ Laughs ]

>> RIEDEL: "Sweeney Todd."

[ Laughter ]

>> DIXON: Oh, come on, come on.

I got that one.

>> WOLFE: "West Side Story."

>> RIEDEL: [ Laughs ]

>> WOLFE: Anyway...

>> DIXON: But, no, I didn't know

about "Shuffle Along" at all,

either, and so the more that

we -- I learned about it once I

started doing the show.

And then, in these conversations

with George, as we shared

research materials amongst each

other, it -- Everything he said

is correct.

It's like everybody needs to

know.

>> HASKINS: Yeah, we knew about

it because of Josephine Baker,

because Jean-Claude Baker would

talk to us about --

>> RIEDEL: I met "Bricktop."

>> WOLFE: Really?

>> RIEDEL: Well, Bricktop, who

was in "Shuffle Along --" She's

mentioned.

She was a performer.

She's mentioned in the show.

And I haven't about it, but I

knew Jean-Claude Baker, who had

the restaurant Chez Josephine, a

shine to his mother,

Josephine Baker.

I've known him since 1989, and

Bricktop was still alive in the

early '90s.

And she would come down, and he

would introdu-- You remember how

flamboyant he was.

He would introduce, "My beloved

Bricktop!"

And she'd come in, and people

would be like...

>> WARREN: [ Laughs ]

>> RIEDEL: Nobody knew.

>> WOLFE: Yes, nobody knew.

Yeah. No, no.

No, and that's what happens.

In fact, I found a journal entry

from a woman writer who's name I

I've forgotten, who wrote about

Lottie Gee, who Audra plays, and

it was during the 1920s.

"We arrived in Paris at 4:00,

found ourselves at Bricktop's.

Lottie Gee -- Too much champagne

and not in good voice, but sang

her hit song from

"Shuffle Along," and we all

cheered like mad.

And it's just this wonderful

slice of life, and it's just so

thrilling to know that, once

upon a time, there was this

extraordinary world where Uptown

and Downtown, where Broadway

artists -- There was a midnight

show that was added to

"Shuffle Along."

My favorite thing -- It said,

"Midnight show -- starts at

11:30."

That was added because

Fanny Brice campaigned

Flournoy Miller and said, "We

want to come see the show, but

we're on the same schedule."

>> HASKINS: Oh.

>> WOLFE: So a midnight show was

added, and it was packed every

single Wednesday night with all

these celebrities.

Al Jolson, each Wednesday night,

would buy 200 tickets and just

get people to be -- So there was

just this incredibly wonderful

time where Broadway was

exploding with all these

possibilities and energies and

rhythms and music, and so we

wanted to celebrate that, and

that's what "Shuffle Along" is.

>> HASKINS: So then I wondered

what happened.

>> WOLFE: Because one looks at

almost anthropologically.

>> HASKINS: Yes, yes.

>> WOLFE: That what I think --

What ended up happening --

"Shuffle Along," the score is

much more sophisticated than the

book, but then that's the

case --

>> RIEDEL: But that was all the

shows.

>> WOLFE: All the '20s musicals.

But I think what ended up

happening -- A lot of the

influences -- A lot of the

influence that "Shuffle Along"

had got absorbed by other show.

Florenz Ziegfeld hired the

chorus girls from

"Shuffle Along" to teach his

chorus girls how to dance.

Will Vodery, who did the vocal

arrangements, was also hired by

Florenz Ziegfeld to do

orchestrations for the

Ziegfeld Follies for the ensuing

years and also was brought in to

do "Show Boat."

So what ended up happening --

You know, there's a line in the

show, "The best of

'Shuffle Along' got eaten alive

by more famous shows."

And I think that's fundamentally

what happens.

And musicals were searching for

an identity.

>> RIEDEL: For a form, really.

>> WOLFE: A form, a good form.

And there was melodrama, and

then there'd be operetta, and

then there'd be a little bit of

vaudeville.

Then there'd be a lot of tent

shows and minstrel shows.

And then -- wasn't four years

later -- you have "Show Boat,"

which figured out a slightly

more -- well, a significantly

more significant, sophisticated

form.

And then, by that time,

everything else became a

dinosaur and either survived

be-- generally because of the

quality of the score, but not

because of the quality of the

show.

>> RIEDEL: I want to delve into

the characters 'cause they're

fascinating.

You play two, Adrienne.

>> WARREN: Yes.

>> RIEDEL: And the one I'm most

curious about, though -- because

there's tragedy there -- is

Florence Mills, who becomes a

star because of "Shuffle Along."

And I believe the history of

it -- She's a nobody when she

shows up for the audition,

right?

>> WARREN: She's been performing

for awhile, but she's basically

a no one by the time she

auditions for "Shuffle Along,"

and she knows it's her one

opportunity to get to the next

level.

And when she auditions, no one's

ever heard a voice like hers.

She has a very birdlike voice,

very soft and demure

personality.

And when she actually

performs -- I think the entire

cast initially thought, "How

would she ever replace

Gertrude Saunders?" who I play

in act one, which is very

brassy --

>> RIEDEL: Who's brassy and a

real eximious dame.

>> WARREN: Right.

And this tiny, 100-pound girl

comes onstage and has standing

ovation after standing ovation

every time she sings and goes on

from "Shuffle Along," becomes

huge internationally, and she

really becomes the first

black -- I want to say

superstar.

>> WOLFE: She appeared on

Broadway, then she appeared in

London, and there were all these

people writing reviews -- "We

don't want her --" all these

racist statements that were

made.

And she walks onstage, sings one

song, and the entire audience

leaps to their feet, cheering.

She becomes a huge star there.

Then she goes to Paris.

She becomes a huge star there.

I think she was Piaf meets

Billie Holiday meets

Judy Garland, but with this

incredibly fragile voice -- and

then died very, very young.

>> RIEDEL: Very young.

>> WOLFE: Extraordinarily very

young.

And there's not one recording of

her.

>> RIEDEL: I was gonna say, is

there a recording of her?

>> WARREN: No. None.

>> RIEDEL: We don't what she

really sounded like.

>> WOLFE: And Adrienne found

this fact, which is the one

time they tried to -- One of the

times they really tried to

record her voice was on the

stage of the Music Box.

>> RIEDEL: Oh, really?

Now, Brandon, you're

Eubie Blake, and he was actually

the one person from

"Shuffle Along" who became

famous again, but later in life,

because I remember "Eubie!"

Remember that --

>> WOLFE: Yes, exactly.

And also because of "The Sting"

and --

>> RIEDEL: Right.

>> DIXON: There was a resurgence

of, like, acknowledgment of

ragtime music and jazz music,

and so it kind of just kind of

came up-- Eubie really lived

this somewhat, you know,

"semi-charmed kind of life."

You know, Eubie's talent and the

music was always his focus.

It was his love and his heart.

And with that, he managed to

negotiate his way through some

very difficult times, and even

through the fallow periods of

his career, you know, he wasn't

out beating down doors.

People came to him, you know?

People came to Eubie and were

immediately charmed by the love

and the joy and the spirit of

Eubie.

I mean, I've been meeting people

after the show who said they met

him when they were doing

"Eubie!"

>> RIEDEL: He lived to be like

93, 94, or something.

>> WOLFE: Yes, it's up for

debate.

[ Laughter ]

Some say 100.

It was actually -- I read that

he added 4 years, so he actually

died when he was 96, but 100 is

much better slogan.

"He lived to be 100."

>> RIEDEL: So, anyway, you've

run into people who knew Eubie?

>> DIXON: And they talk about

seeing Eubie or waiting after

the show and meeting Eubie and

just the wave of warmth and love

that would flow from this man

and his desire to be a part of

it and be present.

A lot of times, people would

think that Eubie's age was a

real restriction on him, but it

wasn't at all.

And he went to Philadelphia to

do this large concert, and there

was no piano on the stage.

It was in the orchestra pit,

which I guess was open at the

time.

And it was his first proper

performance in many, many years.

And he sat down, and then he got

up, and he turned around, and he

said, "You know, I've been

playing the piano for 70, 75

years."

And everybody thought he was

gonna make some sort of

explanation about why his

fingering might not be together.

And he said, "This is the first

time I've ever performed with my

back to an audience."

[ Laughing ] And he turned

around, and they just gave him a

rousing cheer.

And then he gave the most

astounding performance that

any of them had seen come from

anybody.

Just his fingers were always

together.

He was really just truly a

special man.

>> RIEDEL: A team that

completely was lost that you

brought back with

"Shuffle Along" are Miller and

Lyles, who were playwrights.

>> WOLFE: Yes, yes.

>> RIEDEL: So tell us a little

bit about them and how they fit

into this.

>> WOLFE: Flournoy Miller

and Aubrey Lyles met at

Fisk University.

And Aubrey Lyles was studying

medicine, and Flournoy's father

was the editor of a newspaper

somewhere, and they were both

from Tennessee.

And they started putting on

little school skits and

performances, and they fit

together perfectly as a team.

And then, after school, they

went to Chicago and worked for a

black theater there.

And then they were discovered,

and then they were touring

around on the

Keith-Albee Circuit and became

very successful.

They became very successful as

blackface performers.

And so they were this huge top

draw and very smart, very well

educated.

And then they met Sissle and

Blake at a benefit and then

said, "People tell us our

material's great but we need

songs if we want to make it to

Broadway," and they said, "Well,

we've got great songs, and we've

been looking for material."

And they formed this

partnership, and that's how it

happened.

And they're really fascinating

guys because Flournoy lived at

least until the '70s, and Aubrey

died just before the revival of

'33.

>> RIEDEL: Yes, he died young.

>> WOLFE: Yes, he died very,

very young, and he was a very

flamboyant, very outspoken...

very funny, but very aggressive

personality and was incredibly

very short.

And at one point in

"Shuffle Along," they would stop

the show literally and

"literally," and they would put

on a 25- to 30-minute boxing

skit that people would come back

to see over and over and over

and over.

And needless to say, we explored

it.

>> WARREN: We explored it?

[ Laughter ]

>> WOLFE: We explored it, and we

explored it out of the room,

yes.

[ Laughter ]

>> RIEDEL: Which is a nice segue

into my question for the actors.

So, we have with us one of the

great American directors, one of

the great theater directors,

George C. Wolfe.

So give us a sense -- Pretend

he's not here.

>> WARREN: Okay.

>> RIEDEL: Give us a sense of

what it's like -- [Laughs] he's

not here -- what it's like to go

to work for George C. Wolfe.

>> WARREN: I would go to work

with George C. Wolfe...

[ Laughter ]

...any day of my career -- if I

am blessed to keep having a

career after this show...

[ Laughter ]

...because the rehearsal room,

from the beginning, is made to

be such a safe space, and he

wants us all to play constantly,

and he wants you to fail because

he wants to see what brilliance

comes out of that failure.

And he inspires you, as an

artist, to delve deep into

yourself to find whatever you

can find, as well as working

with him to find something

special and brilliant and

different, and I am so grateful.

>> RIEDEL: Now, when you do,

though, fail, how does

George C. Wolfe convey to you

that this bit is perhaps not

working?

>> WARREN: He will say --

>> DIXON: [ Sighs dramatically ]

>> RIEDEL: We're coming your

way, Brandon.

[ Laughter ]

>> WARREN: He will say, "Well,

let's try something else."

[ Laughter ]

In that way.

And he'll make you laugh about

it, as well, and you can

really -- [Sighs] He's just a

very, very special man.

>> RIEDEL: And [Laughs] when you

fail, Brandon, how does --

>> DIXON: [ Sighs dramatically ]

George.

>> RIEDEL: [ Laughs ]

>> DIXON: You know, when I

fail -- It's hard to answer that

question, Michael.

>> WARREN: Oh, geez, Louise.

[ Laughter ]

>> DIXON: No, I'll say this

about George, you know, and I

tell people tell this often.

When you enter a room for the

first time, you're really trying

to figure out what your place is

in this mechanism and how best

to uplift the piece and what you

have to give, what you have to

hold back, et cetera.

And with George, he's one of the

few people who you know rather

immediately just how special he

is.

And I recognized immediately,

"I'm here to listen and give,

give all I can and absorb all

that I can."

>> WARREN: [ Laughs ]

>> DIXON: Mm. Mm. Okay.

[ Laughter ]

Not just George isn't here --

You aren't here.

[ Laughter ]

This isn't here.

Part of the way I listen is my

asking questions and challenging

things so...

But you listen, and you give,

and he challenges you, and he

invites the challenge himself.

And one of the best things that

George can say for me is, when

you discuss or dissect a piece,

you ask him a question, and

sometimes he's like, "I don't

know.

Let's figure it out."

And he has the confidence to

know that we have the tools in

the room to figure it out.

We'll get there.

You know, maybe we need to learn

part "A" before we learn part

"B" or maybe we need a part "D"

before we learn part "B," but

we'll get there.

Let's trust it. Let's explore.

Let's live.

You know, that's -- I mean, I

think George has a real

recognition of how he has become

his -- or fought to become his

greatest self and become the

great artist that he is.

And so he really seeks to

empower us and provide us with

the environment and the tools to

become our greatest selves, to

protect us, and then to lift us

up so that his work and Savion's

work falls away so we can live

and exist.

>> RIEDEL: But, George, you also

wrote this show, too.

So do you come to rehearsal,

when you cast everybody -- Your

book is set in stone, or are you

willing to --

>> WOLFE: Nothing's set in

stone.

Nothing -- No.

>> RIEDEL: Are your lines so

precious that -- like

Edward Albee.

You know, when Edward comes in

with a play, you do the play the

way Edward Albee wrote it.

>> WOLFE: No.

One of the things which I say

all the time -- An audience can

tell when they're in the

presence of a truth that was

discovered just for them, and

they can tell when you've

recycled something.

>> HASKINS: Ah.

>> WOLFE: They can smell it.

They can feel it.

And so I've done a lot of shows

and a lot of different kinds of

shows, so I have a lot of

weapons, but I like to let go of

those weapons so that I can be

virginal to the material, for a

lack of better words.

And if I've written something --

I just have this feeling that

something is either growing or

it's dying.

You know, nothing is stasis.

Nothing is as is.

So as you're working on

material, you're investing it

with growth, and sometimes that

growth comes from an actor.

Sometimes that growth comes

from, "Oh, this line needs to

not be this," or, "This line

needs not to be that."

So you just have to be available

to the process because, if you

create a smart room -- and by

"smart room," I mean that you

invite smart, gifted people in

the room who have varying types

of articulation -- then all the

answers are there.

And so you just have to discover

and play.

I remember -- Very early, very

early on, I was doing a show in

college, and it was something

I'd written and then I was

directing.

And I was working with a

composer who wasn't very good.

And --

>> WARREN: [ Laughs ]

>> WOLFE: And the cast was over

in the corner, and they were

making all this noise, and they

were driving me insane 'cause I

was trying to solve a problem.

Just at the moment I started

getting really annoyed, they

were over in the corner solving

the problem.

And so that's how theater works.

That's how theater works.

I like the sense of anarchy, you

know, which, at any given

moment, I can roar and go,

"[Roars] No, we're not doing

that."

But I like that sense of anarchy

because then everybody else is

discovering what they don't

know.

>> RIEDEL: Right.

>> WOLFE: Everybody else is

dangling somewhere out there in

this weird state of...

"What's going to happen next?"

And then the work feels fresh,

and then the work feels new, and

then everybody is up onstage

shining with a kind of energy,

saying, "Look what I've

discovered for you," as opposed

to, "Yeah, you've seen me do

this again," you know?

And then there's this thing that

happens, which is theater.

>> RIEDEL: But this is very

much, though, what

"Shuffle Along" is about.

Because they don't really know

what they have when they're out

of town, and they're discovering

and creating as they're going

along, solving very technical

problems -- and in some cases,

financial problems, like, "We

don't have any money to get on

the train to go to

Philadelphia."

>> DIXON: Every case.

>> WOLFE: "And we don't have

enough money for scenery," and

so somebody sends them a trunk

of smelly costumes, and then

they got to turn a number into

them.

And that's one of the reasons

why I really wanted to live

inside of the energy of this

show.

Because, you know, you come to

New York, and then you have

hits, and you go, "Ah, they love

me," and then you have failures,

you go, "Ah, they hate me," and

then you go, "Ah, they love me,"

and all this sort of crap, and

you cultivate all this armor

which is kind of essential and

stupid.

And so I wanted to live inside

of that energy that I had when I

first came to New York, of "Gee,

kids, let's put on a show."

You know, I wanted to go back to

that.

You know, there was some article

that Frank Rich summarizing the

season that "Nine" had happened,

and he was talking about, "The

seasons unfold as it is," and

the final line was, "And who

knows?

At this time on the upper west

side in a small apartment,

there's some young mind who has

a vision for the American

theater, and it is no pipe

dream," and I went, "He knows

about me!"

[ Laughter ]

>> RIEDEL: That ego was

always --

>> WOLFE: Always. Exactly.

You know, and it's just that

sense of that stupid, blind

belief in faith that you have to

have at the beginning of your

career, and I wanted to create a

show that celebrated that

stupid, blind faith that you

have to have.

And everybody who made this show

had this same kind of stupid,

blind faith.

Who comes into New York $18,000

in debt, which is the equivalent

of $250,000 and ends up a hit?

Doesn't happen.

But they did it because failure

was not an option.

I mean, it was a big option, but

for them, you know, they just

plowed forward.

So that's the energy that I

wanted to -- I wanted to live

there again.

And I wanted to be in a room

with people who were living

there, as well.

>> RIEDEL: I've got to wrap it

up in one minute, but let's just

go back to -- we know little

George up there in his

apartment, reading Frank Rich,

saying, "He knows about me."

Can you give us a sense,

Adrienne, when it all began for

you?

I mean, the first time you fell

in love with the theater --

something you were in or

something you saw -- you

thought, "I have to work in this

world somehow"?

>> WARREN: Well, the first time

I'd ever seen a show, I remember

it was "Once Upon a Mattress"

and I was sitting on my mother's

lap, and I looked at her and I

was maybe 6 years old at the

time and I said, "Mom, I'm gonna

do that."

She had no idea what I meant at

the time and what that would all

entail, but I knew from very

early on -- I was also an

athlete.

So I knew I wanted to do that,

but I stopped growing, so that

dream came to a halt.

[ Laughter ]

Came to a quick halt, and I had

to get serious about my theater

training, because I knew that's

where my passion -- my heart

lived there.

And now I'm here, and I'm

grateful for it.

>> RIEDEL: And not that you were

into musicals when you were

growing up, Brandon, but

[laughs]

>> DIXON: I absolutely was.

I absolutely was.

I had a wonderful, wonderful

school growing up.

We had a music class every day.

We did three musicals a year.

The junior high, they did a

Shakespeare play every year.

>> HAWKINS: Where was that?

>> DIXON: This is

Rockville, Maryland,

Christ Episcopal School.

Bert Worth ran the program, and,

you know, she really -- both my

brother and I -- 'cause my

brother is six years older than

I, but he starred in all the

musicals and so then I just did

the same thing as I grew up.

So I've always had a love, and

I've known from a very early age

that this is exactly what I was

gonna do.

It's one of the reasons I came

to New York to go to Columbia so

that I could audition while I

was in school.

>> WOLFE: So he could be in

"Shuffle Along."

[ Laughter ]

>> RIEDEL: Exactly.

>> DIXON: Exactly.

But my first Broadway show was

"Ragtime" in high school,

sitting in the very last row

with those little binoculars,

watching Stokes and Audra, and,

I mean, I've idolized them --

particularly Stokes, you know,

'cause he's a leading man, but I

idolized him since that day.

And so to be in this

production...

>> RIEDEL: Must be a thrill for

you.

>> DIXON: Yeah, not only with

George and Savion but with

people like Stokes and Audra and

Billy.

It's an absolute dream.

>> WARREN: Absolutely.

>> DIXON: You know, it's very

special.

We're really excited to be here.

>> RIEDEL: Well, the show is

"Shuffle Along, Or The Making of

the Musical Sensation of 1921

and All That Followed," created

by George C. Wolfe with, we must

say, superb choreography by

Savion Glover.

I mean, I've been watching

Savion since he was your height,

but, I mean, he's really emerged

into a major force as a

choreographer on Broadway.

>> WOLFE: Brilliant performer,

too.

>> RIEDEL: Absolutely.

And, by the way, we should say

he's gonna come into the show.

>> WOLFE: Yes, he is.

Yes, he is.

>> RIEDEL: Are you gonna bring

back the boxing segment for him?

>> WOLFE: Exactly. Exactly.

With himself.

Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.

>> RIEDEL: All right,

George C. Wolfe, creator of

"Shuffle Along," thank you for

being --

>> WOLFE: Thank you very much.

>> RIEDEL: The lovely

Adrienne Warren --

Tony-nominated for her

performance in "Shuffle Along."

>> WARREN: Thank you.

>> RIEDEL: And our good friend

Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays

Eubie Blake.

>> DIXON: Yes, sir.

>> RIEDEL: Thanks for being our

guests tonight on

"Theater Talk."

>> WOLFE: Thank you guys.

♪♪

[ Indistinct singing ]

>> HASKINS: Our thanks to the

Friends of "Theater Talk" for

their significant contribution

to this production.

>> ANNOUNCER: We welcome your

questions or comments

for "Theater Talk."

Thank you.

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