The Chaperone and Shuffle Along

December 9, 2012 § 1 Comment

Actress Louise Brooks in 1927, wearing bobbed ...

Actress Louise Brooks in 1927, wearing bobbed hair under a cloche hat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I’m reading The Chaperone, a historical fiction novel inspired by 1920’s “It” girl Louise Brooks. I love the twenties: bobbed hair, flapper dresses, cloches, bootleg, and jazz. And of course the shift in attitudes and expressive styles of women. This is the line from the jacket description that clinched me adding this book to my Goodreads shelf:

“Cora’s eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.”

TheChaperone

In the book there is a scene where Cora and Louise go to the 63rd Street Music Hall to see Shuffle Along. This was an all-black musical show that played on Broadway from 1921–1922.  I was intrigued, never having heard of this show. I did a little Google search and found this article published earlier this year, on the New York Public Library website. Despite playing at a time when theaters were still segregated, this show was attended by both black and white audiences. According to this article, “Shuffle Along, . . . more than any other show, began dismantling racial segregation of Broadway theaters.”

You can download a digital file of the Shuffle Along manuscript from NYPL.

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