Shuffle Along centers around the upcoming mayoral election in Jimtown. Sam Peck and Steve Jenkins, partners in the local grocery store, both decide to run for mayor and make a corrupt pact. If either of them wins, they will appoint the other as Chief of Police. Supported by Tom Sharper, a dishonest campaign manager, Steve wins the election and makes good his promise to Sam. However, their arrangement clearly will not last, as their constant bickering gets the better of them and they come to blows in a comical ballet-fight. All is not lost however, as their virtuous opponent, Harry Walton, has a mysterious ally. Detective Jack Penrose is a stranger in town, but he decides that Steve and Sam’s corrupt jurisdiction must come to an end. Exposing their cheating ways, he removes them from office and installs Harry as the rightful mayor of Jimtown. Harry’s upstanding character is rewarded and he also gets to keep the undying devotion of his beautiful fiancee, Jessie Williams.
Shuffle Along was the first musical on Broadway in ten years to be entirely produced, written, and performed by an all African-American cast, and to feature a sophisticated love story rather than a frivolous, comedic plot. Although some of the characters may come across as questionable stereotypes by today’s standards, the success of the musical in 1921 marked a major break-through for African-American musical theatre performers.
Shuffle Along guide sections