Producer Scott Rudin has announced his Broadway show Shuffle Along will close on July 24th despite receiving rave reviews.
Strangely, Rudin seems to put the onus of closing on leading lady, six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald. McDonald recently announced that she is pregnant and would be leaving the production soon.
However, she was already scheduled to depart the show to appear in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill in London. So, I'm not sure what the difference is between her leaving for a pregnancy or for a previously scheduled commitment in London.
In addition, Shuffle Along has two other Tony Award winners, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter. Plus, Tony Award winner Savion Glover was set to join the cast. So there's no lack of star power on the stage.
See the announcement below via BroadwayWorld:
Producer Scott Rudin has just announced that SHUFFLE ALONG will play its final Broadway performance on Sunday, July 24, 2016. As was previously announced Audra McDonald, the six-time Tony winning star was already set to depart the production on July 24 for what was planned as a multi-month maternity leave. The news comes after reports of both Rhiannon Giddens having been cast and starting rehearsals as her replacement, and after news of choreographer Savion Glover being slated to join the show as well.
"Audra McDonald is the biggest star on Broadway, and audiences have been clamoring to see her in this role since the first preview of Shuffle Along in March of this year," said Scott Rudin in a statement to the press. "She is absolutely extraordinary in the show, and I am filled with gratitude for both her exemplary partnership on Shuffle Along and also for her remarkable resilience and fortitude in doing everything possible to play as many shows as she can, despite the circumstance of her pregnancy.
We are thrilled that she and her husband, Will Swenson, are experiencing the opportunity to expand their family - and we wish them all good things as they approach the birth of their child this fall. It has, however, 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 on July 24. On behalf of myself and George C. Wolfe, I want to say how deeply grateful we are to her for everything she gave and continues to give the show. There is simply nobody like her."
SHUFFLE ALONG began performances on March 15, 2016 and officially opened, to rave reviews, on April 28. It went on to win the New York Drama Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards for Best Musical, along with the Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Choreography (Savion Glover), Outstanding Costume Design (Ann Roth), and Outstanding Wig and Hair Design (Mia M. Neal). It was nominated for ten 2016 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It will have played 38 previews and 100 regular performances by the time it ends its run.