‘Shuffle Along' Will Close in July, Citing Audra McDonald's Exit as Reason

After being shut out of the 2016 Tony Awards, "Shuffle Along or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed" will play its final performance at the Music Box Theatre on July 24.

At the time of its closing, the acclaimed production will have played 38 previews and 100 regular performances.

The new musical, which explored the backstory for the groundbreaking black revue, marked the first reunion of director George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover, who had previously worked together in the 1996 hit musical "Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk."

The closing comes abruptly. "Shuffle Along" has been a strong hit at the box office, largely on the draw of six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald. According to numbers provided by the Broadway League, last week the musical grossed almost 87% of its $1.1 million potential gross, nearly filling its entire house.

McDonald was previously scheduled to temporarily depart "Shuffle Along" on June 20 to reprise her Tony-winning role in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" in London. However, the 45-year-old actress announced in May she was pregnant with her second child -- a first with husband Will Swenson ("Les Miserables") -- and decided to stay through July 24.

Producer Scott Rudin attributes a drop in sales after McDonald's departure to the show's closing.

"It has 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, and we have decided to close the show when she leaves," Rudin said in a statement.

"I am overjoyed to be expecting a new addition to my family," McDonald said in a statement. "Yet completely heartbroken that our tremendously talented cast and company -- my 'Shuffle Family' -- won't be able to continue telling this incredible story." 

McDonald's replacement -- Grammy-winning folk artist Rhiannon Giddens -- had already began rehearsals, but will not go on in the role of Lottie Gee. Savion Glover, who had also announced plans to join the show during its run, will also not join the cast before closing.

In addition to McDonald, the show features Tony winners Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter, and Tony nominees Brandon Victor Dixon, Adrienne Warren and Joshua Henry.

Theatergoers with tickets after its closing date can visit their point of purchase for refunds.

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