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MXO ‘The Arts Unplugged’: Music From The Harlem Renaissance: Premiere Concert Takes Center Stage At Karamu House!

28 January 2019 Education, The Arts Unplugged No Comment

Karamu House

Posted January 28th 2019


Karamu House joins The Musical Theater Project to present “The Impact of Shuffle Along,” celebrating the dynamic duo of 1920s Harlem, composer Eubie Blake and lyricist Noble Sissle.

The Impact of Shuffle Along

February 7-10, 2019

Karamu House | Jelliffe Theatre

2355 E. 89th Street, Cleveland, OH 44106

Karamu House stands tall as the oldest multicultural performing arts center in the country.  Swahili for “joyful gathering place,” Karamu has been a center for all people for over 100 years.  The renowned cultural arts institution recognizes and celebrates the AfricanAmerican experience as a shared experience in this country.

For Black History Month, Karamu joins forces with The Musical Theater Project (TMTP) to present “The Impact of Shuffle Along,” a special concert production celebrating the contributions of the legendary African-American musical theatre team, ragtime composer Eubie Blake and lyricist Noble Sissle.  The special concert will run Thursday, February 7 through Sunday, February 10, 2019 in Karamu’s newly renovated Jelliffe Theatre, located at 2355 E. 89th Street, Cleveland, OH 44106.  Single tickets are $30 and can be purchased by contacting Karamu House box office at 216.795.7077, or here.

The production, conceived and written by TMTP Founding Director Bill Rudman, will be hosted by Rudman and Tony F. Sias, Karamu President + CEO.  It will combine live performances of 18 songs with narration, dance and video clips. The cast of outstanding vocalists will include Sias, Treva Offutt (who doubles as choreographer), Evelyn Wright and Justin C. Woody, and will feature The Joe Hunter Trio and ragtime pianist George Foley.

Karamu provides socially and culturally relevant programs throughout the year for children and life-long learners, and holds a responsibility to celebrate prominent African-American figures as well as others coming from the African diaspora.   The Musical Theater Project is committed to fostering a deep appreciation of the American musical—and the social and cultural history surrounding it—by creating programs that educate as well as entertain people of all ages.  This production marks the inaugural collaboration between the two award-winning organizations.

President Harry S. Truman’s 1948 campaign song. The landmark musical became widely known as the show that brought the Harlem Renaissance to the Broadway stage.  It was also the first production to allow black theatergoers to watch from the orchestra after so many years of segregated seating.

Running for over 500 performances, the Broadway production launched the careers of Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson and Adelaide Hall.  The groundbreaking musical toured in 1924 and received two revivals, and in 2016 director-writer George C. Wolfe created a new musical about the making of the show starring Audra MacDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter and Brandon Victor Dixon.

In 2016, Harbinger Records, a division of The Musical Theater Project, released an acclaimed CD featuring archival recordings of the score performed by Blake and Sissle. The album won a Grammy Award for liner notes written by Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom, authors of an upcoming biography of Eubie Blake.

For ticket information, please contact Karamu House box office at 216.795.7077, or visit www.karamuhouse.org.


Founded in 2000, THE MUSICAL THEATER PROJECT (TMTP) was formed to foster a deep appreciation of the American musical—and the social and cultural history surrounding it—by creating programs that educate as well as entertain people of all ages.  TMTP produces concerts, in-school residency programs, radio broadcasts and recordings that create personal connections with the songs, characters and themes of the American musical.  The organization documents the lives of important American musical theater artists, explores the connections between the musical and the rich diversity of the American experience, and examines the relevance of musical theater in contemporary society.  For more information, please visit www.musicaltheaterproject.org.


In 1915, Oberlin College graduates Russell and Rowena Jelliffe opened the Playhouse Settlement in an area called Cleveland’s The Roaring Third.  The Jelliffes wanted to build an environment where people of different races, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds could come together to share common ventures through the arts. Karamu was established as a gathering place for racially-diverse members of the surrounding community at that time.  Today, Karamu is a beating heart for the entire community, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identification, or age, retaining its historical identity as “a place of joyful gathering.” Core programs include socially-relevant and professional quality theatre; arts education programming for all ages; and community programming, such as comedy, live jazz, and spoken word performances, that invites participation and engagement, reflection, and a recommitment to cultural values.


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