Why didn't the new Shuffle Along Musical release a soundtrack?

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Answered by: brian, An Expert in the Broadway Soundtracks Category
Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed was an amazing musical, staring Broadway legends, that ran on The Great White Way from March to July of 2016 at the Music Box Theater. The show was about what did, and what might have taken place behind the scenes of the original production of Shuffle Along, which was the first Broadway show to have an all black cast. This new Shuffle Along musical was written and directed by George C. Wolfe, choreographed by Savion Glover, and featured music from the original show, written by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle. Wolfe’s Shuffle Along definitely paid homage to the original content, but was totally original in its delivery. When I went to see the show, it was so good that it garnered several, well received, outbursts by audience members. This musical is not just another entertaining song and dance show, it also tells the stories of lesser known pioneers in African-American history. Wolfe’s Shuffle Along musical also, very poignantly, reminded the audience just how deep and persistent issues of diversity in show business are.

This show featured Broadway royalty, such as the legendary Audra McDonald, who was very pregnant during this show’s run, in the role of Lottie Gee, Brian Stokes Mitchell as F.E. Miller, and Billy Porter as Aubrey Lyles. For me, they were probably the biggest draw to this show, and they did not disappoint. I don’t mean to seem dismissive of the rest of the cast, because everyone was just fantastic, but watching Billy Porter sing “Low Down Blues” was perhaps the greatest thing I have ever seen on a Broadway stage. I swear the standing ovation that followed lasted longer than the actual song. The fact that no one from this show received a Tony award still grinds my gears, but the fact that no soundtrack was released for this musical straight up pisses me off.

Every number in this show was moving and breathe taking to watch, like Audra McDonald miming behind Adrienne Warren while she sang, perfectly, "I’m Cravin' That Kind of Love." Although the listener wouldn’t be able to see the passion in the performers movements, they will still be able to hear every emotion expressed in their signing. A soundtrack usually follows incredible shows like Shuffle Along, especially when it has Broadway legends singing their hearts out. Billy Porter brought the house down every time he opened his mouth, and Brian Stokes Mitchell deservedly received a standing ovation after leading the company in “Swing Along.” There are fans of musical theater who may not always, or ever, be able to afford a ticket to a Broadway show, but depend on the soundtracks to experience a Broadway show in some way. I don’t know why there was no soundtrack for this musical, and I know many other fans are baffled by the decision not to release one. It’s been more than a year since this show closed on Broadway, so I know the chances of a soundtrack being released now are close to zero, but for a show this good how can I not hold out hope that someday a cast album will be released.

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