Lyceum Theatre, (10/31/2010 - 12/12/2010)

First Preview: Oct 07, 2010
Opening Date: Oct 31, 2010
Closing Date: Dec 12, 2010
Total Previews: 29
Total Performances: 49

Category: Musical, Drama, Original, Broadway

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President)

Produced by Barry & Fran Weissler, Jacki Barlia Florin, Janet Pailet/Sharon A. Carr/Patricia R. Klausner, Nederlander Presentations, Inc., The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President), Beechwood Entertainment, Broadway Across America, Mark Zimmerman, Adam Blanshay/R2D2 Productions, Rick Danzansky/Barry Tatelman, Bruce Robert Harris/Jack W. Batman, Allen Spivak/Jerry Frankel, Bard Theatricals/Probo Productions/Randy Donaldson, Catherine Schreiber/Michael Palitz/Patti Laskawy and Vineyard Theatre; Associate Producer: Carlos Arana, Ruth Eckerd Hall and Brett England

Originally produced in New York City, February 2010 by Vineyard Theatre; Further developed at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater

Book by David Thompson; Music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; Lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb; Music orchestrated by Larry Hochman; Music arranged by Glen Kelly; Music Direction & Vocal Arrangements: David Loud

Directed by Susan Stroman; Choreographed by Susan Stroman; Associate Director: Jeff Whiting; Associate Choreographer: Jeff Whiting

Scenic Design by Beowulf Boritt; Costume Design by Toni-Leslie James; Lighting Design by Ken Billington; Sound Design by Peter Hylenski; Associate Scenic Design: Jo Winiarski; Associate Lighting Design: John Demous; Associate Costume Design: Nicky Tobolski; Hair, Wig & Make-up Design: Wendy Parson

General Manager: Richards / Climan, Inc.; Executive Producer: Alecia Parker; Company Manager: Kathy Lowe

Production Manager: Aurora Productions; Production Stage Manager: Joshua Halperin; Stage Manager: Alex Lyu Volckhausen

Conducted by Paul Masse; Piano, Harmonium: Paul Masse; Trumpet/Cornet/Flugel Horn: Wayne duMaine; Tenor Trombone: Charles Gordon; Clarinet/Bass Clarinet/Flute/Piccolo: Andrew Sterman; Violin: Justin Smith; Upright Bass/Tuba: Ernie Collins; Drums/Percussion: Bruce Doctor; Banjo/Guitar/Mandolin/Ukulele/Harmonica: Greg Utzig; Orchestra Contractor: Charles Gordon

Dance Captain: Josh Breckenridge; Advertising: SPOTCo, Inc.; General Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Casting: Jim Carnahan, C.S.A. and Stephen Kopel; Fight direction by Rick Sordelet

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Opening Night Cast

Joshua HenryHaywood Patterson
John CullumThe Interlocutor
Judge
Governor of Alabama
Josh BreckenridgeOlen Montgomery
Derrick CobeyAndy Wright
Colman DomingoMr. Bones
Sheriff Bones
Lawyer Bones
Guard Bones
Attorney General
Clerk
Jeremy GumbsEugene Williams
Little George
Rodney HicksClarence Norris
Preacher
Kendrick JonesWillie Roberson
Electrified Charlie
James T. LaneRuby Bates
Ozie Powell
Forrest McClendonMr. Tambo
Deputy Tambo
Lawyer Tambo
Guard Tambo
Samuel Leibowitz
Julius Thomas IIIRoy Wright
Electrified Isaac
Billy
Sharon WashingtonThe Lady
Christian Dante WhiteCharles Weems
Victoria Price

Swings: E. Clayton Cornelious, J. C. Montgomery and Clinton Roane

Understudies: Josh Breckenridge (Charles Weems, Electrified Charlie, Electrified Isaac, Mr. Tambo, Ozie Powell, Ruby Bates, Samuel Leibowitz, Victoria Price), E. Clayton Cornelious (Andy Wright, Billy, Charles Weems, Clarence Norris, Electrified Charlie, Electrified Isaac, Eugene Williams, Little George, Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Preacher, Roy Wright, Ruby Bates, The Lady, Victoria Price, Willie Roberson), Rodney Hicks (Haywood Patterson), J. C. Montgomery (Attorney General, Clarence Norris, Governor of Alabama, Judge, Mr. Bones, Mr. Tambo, Preacher, Samuel Leibowitz, The Interlocutor), Clinton Roane (Andy Wright, Billy, Electrified Charlie, Electrified Isaac, Eugene Williams, Little George, Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Roy Wright, Ruby Bates, Victoria Price, Willie Roberson) and Cherene Snow (The Lady)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 2011 Best Musical [nominee] 

Produced by Barry & Fran Weissler, Jacki Barlia Florin, Janet Pailet/Sharon A. Carr/Patricia R. Klausner, Nederlander Presentations, Inc., The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President), Beechwood Entertainment, Broadway Across America, Mark Zimmerman, Adam Blanshay/R2D2 Productions, Rick Danzansky/Barry Tatelman, Bruce Robert Harris/Jack W. Batman, Allen Spivak/Jerry Frankel, Bard Theatricals/Probo Productions/Randy Donaldson, Catherine Schreiber/Michael Palitz/Patti Laskawy and Vineyard Theatre

 2011 Best Book of a Musical [nominee] 

Book by David Thompson

 2011 Best Original Score Written for the Theatre [nominee] 

Lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander; Music by Fred Ebb and John Kander

 2011 Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical [nominee] 

Joshua Henry

 2011 Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical [nominee] 

Colman Domingo

 2011 Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical [nominee] 

Forrest McClendon

 2011 Best Choreography [nominee] 

Susan Stroman

 2011 Best Direction of a Musical [nominee] 

Susan Stroman

 2011 Best Orchestrations [nominee] 

Larry Hochman

 2011 Best Scenic Design of a Musical [nominee] 

Beowulf Boritt

 2011 Best Lighting Design of a Musical [nominee] 

Ken Billington

 2011 Best Sound Design of a Musical [nominee] 

Sound Design by Peter Hylenski

Songs

music by Fred Ebb and John Kander; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander

Minstrel March
(music by Fred Ebb and John Kander; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Orchestra
Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey!
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Company
Commencing in Chattanooga
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Scottsboro Boys and Haywood Patterson
Alabama Ladies
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Ruby Bates and Victoria Price
Nothin'
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Haywood Patterson
Electric Chair
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Guards, Electrified Charlie, Electrified Isaac and Eugene Williams
Go Back Home
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Scottsboro Boys, Eugene Williams and Haywood Patterson
Shout!
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Scottsboro Boys
Make Friends With the Truth
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Scottsboro Boys and Haywood Patterson
That's Not the Way We Do Things
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Samuel Leibowitz
Never Too Late
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Scottsboro Boys and Ruby Bates
Financial Advice
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Attorney General
Southern Days
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Scottsboro Boys
Chain Gang
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Scottsboro Boys
Alabama Ladies (Reprise)
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Victoria Price
Zat So?
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Governor of Alabama, Haywood Patterson and Samuel Leibowitz
You Can't Do Me
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Scottsboro Boys and Haywood Patterson
The Scottsboro Boys
(music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Scottsboro Boys
Minstrel March (Reprise)
(music by Fred Ebb and John Kander; lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander )
Orchestra

Reviews


New York Daily News: "Scottsboro Boys review: Split personality play leaves you zigzagging between parody and poignancy"

It's exciting to see "The Scottsboro Boys" on Broadway boasting so many things a musical should have. That includes good songs, a provocative story (not from a movie), a rousing staging and a hugely talented cast.

But it also has a split personality. It wants to shock; it yearns to charm. They're not always compatible goals.

The factual story recalls nine young black men wrongly accused of raping two white women in 1931. They are sent to an Alabama prison and languish for years.

Their trials play as a minstrel show, swirling with ugly, polarizing characters. Prison scenes of the men play out realistically. You're left zigzagging between parody and poignancy.

The fine score by composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, who died in 2004, conjures their hits "Cabaret" and "Chicago" in terms of melody and irony. The duo's best songs here -- "Commencing in Chattanooga" and "Go Back Home" -- are irony-free.

The songwriters and book writer David Thompson missed the opportunity to better flesh out the men. They remain as sweetly but sketchily drawn as they were in last spring's Vineyard Theatre run.

The direction and choreography by Susan Stroman ("The Producers") is polished and precise, making imaginative use of a bare stage, some chairs and a plain backdrop. She counts on her first-rate ensemble to fill in the blanks -- and they do.

Joshua Henry is tough and tender as prisoner-turned-writer Haywood Patterson, whose fate paves the way for the civil rights movement. John Cullum brings mild-mannered menace as the minstrel emcee, while Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon create vivid portraits as his right-hand men.

"Scottsboro Boys" isn't perfect, but it's worthwhile. It deserves credit for tackling a slice of history that needs to be known.


New York Daily News
11/01/2010

New York Magazine: "The Brilliant Blunt Force of The Scottsboro Boys"

Sometimes, there’s nothing more dangerous than a little old-fashioned entertainment—and entertainment doesn’t come much more old-fashioned than the minstrel show, American theater’s most peculiar institution. In their final collaboration, The Scottsboro Boys, John Kander and the late Fred Ebb make a risky wager: using minstrelsy to tell a foundational parable of the civil-rights movement. The titular Boys were nine black youths falsely accused of rape in Depression-era Alabama—then falsely convicted, over and over again.

It’s a story of brazen injustice, and the show’s theatrical provocations are proportionately broad and basic. “Everyone’s a minstrel tonight!” the boys belt in the opening number, setting the subtlety thermostat somewhere between Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret and Glee. And yet the point-blank theatrical force of the show cannot be denied: The talent onstage is so lavish it overwhelms our comfortable pieties with pure showmanship, conjuring your applause in waves, then quietly placing an asterisk after each bravura number: Did I just clap for ... a shuck-and-jive?

Director and choreographer Susan Stroman puts nothing between you and her ensemble, a peerless collection of triple threats who execute her airborne hoofery with grace and violence. The set is just chairs and a plank or two, and minstrel convention is respected in minute detail, from the cakewalk to the “end men” (the unambiguously crazed duo of Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon)—and, of course, the Interlocutor (John Cullum), the (white) straight-man emcee. (The mandatory star applause that Cullum receives, as he promenades onstage resplendent in Colonel Sanders white, is marvelously uncomfortable in this context—Stroman’s tart little joke on an irritating trend among starstruck, selfcongratulatory Broadway audiences: Yes! By all means! Clap for Massah! Because you recognize him!)

The boys themselves tap into the demonic power of pure performance, milking each minstrel tradition (the Jim Crow shuffle, the emasculating drag number) for its essential performative energy, constantly daring us to separate the zazz on offer from the moral matter at hand. As Haywood Patterson, the most fiercely principled of the nine, Joshua Henry (American Idiot) does the near impossible: He takes that unluckiest of suicide missions, the earnest angry-young-man role, and brands it onto the back wall of your brain. In “Nothin,” a searing shuck-and-jive number that approaches the tuneful discomfort zone of classic Cabaret-era Kander and Ebb, Patterson focuses rage into meter, choreographed by Stroman at a perfectly, excruciatingly slow tempo. Among other standouts: Christian Dante White takes a drag role to the razor’s edge of misogyny, then walks it back at an accusing amble; and young Jeremy Gumbs’ startlingly pellucid voice recalls a pubescent Michael Jackson.

Still, Assassins this ain’t. (The loss of Ebb is felt keenly in some of the lyrics: Yes, society rhymes with notoriety, but surely that shouldn’t be the high point of a show’s prosody?) The nine remain an amalgam, and attempts to distinguish individual characters inevitably founder on the rocks of minstrelsy: Kitsch subverts content somewhat, not (as the creators clearly believe) the other way around. But then, maybe that’s the most subversive message of all. The Scottsboro Boys isn’t a precision-guided social endoscopy: It’s a single, stunning blow to the temple. And on its own discomfiting, blunt-force terms, it’s utterly successful.


New York Magazine
10/31/2010

New York Post: "Great 'Scott'! A classic"

John Kander and Fred Ebb have given American musical theater a pair of un disputable, stone- cold classics, "Cabaret" and "Chicago." Now they've added a third one to the list: "The Scottsboro Boys," which opened last night on Broadway.

Completed by Kander after Ebb's death in 2004, it's an archetype of the pair's MO: a boldly stylized, defiantly razzle-dazzle look at true events that underscore the bankruptcy of institutions and the nasty things people do to each other.

And it's staged as a minstrel show. Great.

The songwriters, author David Thompson and director/choreographer Susan Stroman use that long-scorned, loaded genre to tell the story of the nine black men -- the "boys" of the title -- who were falsely accused of raping two white women in Alabama in 1931.

John Cullum, Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon play the stock characters of 19th-century minstrelsy: the Interlocutor (the narrator), Mr. Bones and Mr. Tambo, respectively. The last two pinch-hit in various white authority roles, including the sheriffs, the attorney general and a Jewish lawyer who comes down from New York to help out the prisoners.

The story has a resounding emotional charge, but we also clearly see the cruel, almost cartoonish absurdity of it all.

Here we have a relentlessly Kafka-esque justice system in which a drunken attorney easily wins a conviction. Later, one of the women recants -- and still the verdict stands. Years pass, and the boys turn into men in jail. Perhaps inspired by their moral center, the stoic Haywood Patterson (Joshua Henry), they remain unbowed.

As grim as its subject is, the show is vibrantly alive.

For one, the score is packed with great tunes that instantly stick in your head, from a recurring cakewalk vamp to the rolling "Commencing in Chattanooga," which simulates a train ride's rhythm. Kander and Ebb have also come up with an instant standard with Haywood's powerful ballad "Go Back Home." You'll hear it in cabaret rooms soon.

But you can't separate the songs from Stroman's staging, a model of visually striking economy. She needs only chairs, tambourines and a few other props to evoke a variety of locales and situations, including a chain gang and an electric-chair execution.

On the surface, "The Scottsboro Boys" is a hard sell in a Times Square dominated by escapist fluff. The show was slightly tweaked after its off-Broadway run in the spring -- to give the characters more back story and motivation -- but it hasn't been compromised, and remains grimly thought-provoking.

Yet this is also a thrillingly inventive and entertaining night at the theater. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be moved. What could be more Broadway than that?


New York Post
11/01/2010

USA Today: "The Scottsboro Boys: A memorable musical "

Musical theater has long been a forum for topics often avoided in polite conversation, from domestic violence to AIDS. The songwriting team of John Kander and the late Fred Ebb certainly didn't shy away from darker subject matter in their shows, among them Cabaret and Chicago.

But the final Kander and Ebb musical, The Scottsboro Boys (* * * out of four), now in its Broadway premiere, seems determined to challenge even the most sophisticated and inured audiences. Based on a case involving nine young black men unjustly convicted of rape in 1930s Alabama, Scottsboro is structured as a minstrel show, with performers regaling the crowd with hokey song-and-dance numbers.

For anyone who misses the sarcasm, there are scathing references to the Jim Crow South, in the score and in David Thompson's libretto. Lynchings are repeatedly mentioned, and a Jewish lawyer is attacked, with caustic humor, for his ethnicity.

In short, Scottsboro, which opened Sunday at the Lyceum Theatre, wears its social conscience and its political incorrectness on its sleeve. And while the result is thoughtful, vibrant entertainment, the earnestness and irreverence can seem self-conscious.

That this production feels more heavy-handed than the one staged earlier this year off-Broadway may owe to a new principal actor. Joshua Henry replaces Brandon Victor Dixon as Haywood Patterson, the most fearlessly indignant Scottsboro Boy.

Where Dixon channeled Haywood's anger with riveting charisma, Henry brings a stiffly brooding quality to the role. That approach may be dramatically justifiable, but it's not as effective in the context of a musical — where a hero's spirit should never be so deadened that he can't convincingly burst into song.

Fortunately, other cast members and director/choreographer Susan Stroman ensure that the life force sustaining the Scottsboro Boysis duly represented.

Among the players, standouts include the nimble, sweet-voiced Jeremy Gumbs, as the youngest prisoner, and James T. Lane and Christian Dante White, who appear both as other convicts and, more humorously, the tacky would-be Southern belles who accuse them. As end men "Mr. Bones" and "Mr. Tambo," Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon handily juggle similarly clownish parts, from a booze-addled attorney to a power-drunk sheriff.

Only one real woman appears on stage: Sharon Washington, playing a dignified figure who lingers in the background, not uttering a word until the end. She reminds us that suffering and resolve can be evoked through silence, even in a show as boisterous as this one.


USA Today
10/31/2010

Variety: "The Scottsboro Boys"

Kander and Ebb's "The Scottsboro Boys" was arguably the finest of last season's new musicals when it appeared at the Vineyard in March. Producers Barry and Fran Weissler eschewed a hasty transfer in favor of a carefully planned Broadway campaign and two months of additional work at the Guthrie in Minneapolis. Results are stronger, tighter and even more impactful than the already distinguished show on display last spring. Provocative tuner seems likely to divide audiences in much the same manner as the duo's "Kiss of the Spider Woman," but this one is right up there with "Cabaret" and "Chicago."

"Scottsboro" tells the real-life tale of nine black teenagers unjustly charged with rape in Alabama in 1931. Their convictions in a series of biased trials brought nationwide attention as the case went through numerous appeals, resulting in influential Supreme Court decisions. Not cheery stuff, and certainly a hard sell (a similar problem faced the award-winning but short-lived 1998 musical "Parade," which told of a 1913 lynching in Georgia). The creators here latched onto the canny concept of telling the story in minstrel-show terms, allowing an influx of mirth and humor, while the prejudicial excesses of that long-denigrated form redouble the point. By adding a contemporary overlay with the presence of an enigmatic observer referred to merely as "a Lady," "Scottsboro Boys" resonates in chilling fashion.

The cast is terrific. Any qualms about the replacement of the actor who played main defendant Haywood Patterson at the Vineyard are dispelled early on by Joshua Henry (from last season's "American Idiot"). Henry is very good here; so is 80-year-old veteran John Cullum, who struts through the affair as the Interlocutor with a benevolent smile tinged with snarling condescension. (Cullum might have remembered some of the trial as a child growing up in the South during the six years of Scottsboro trials.)

Forrest McClendon and Colman Domingo, as the Tambo and Bones of the minstrel format, both have stirring moments in the second trial segment with their respective solos, "That's Not the Way We Do Things in the South" and the scathing "Financial Advice." Christian Dante White and James T. Lane score withtestimony as the prostitutes who set the plot in motion, while Jeremy Gumbsimpresses as the 12-year-old defendant. Matching them all is Sharon Washington, who provides the conscience of the piece as the Lady. The Kander-Ebb-Susan Stroman-David Thompson team, from the 1997 tuner "Steel Pier," began work in 2002; Kander finished the lyrics following Ebb's death in September 2004. Result finds the tunesmiths at their best since 1975, offering a combination of first-rate songs ("Go Back Home") and keenly contrived musical numbers ("Electric Chair"). Director-choreographer Stroman, working on a far simpler scale than usual, delivers her most creative and effective work in years, and Kander's music sounds great in the hands of orchestrator Larry Hochman, arranger Glen Kelly, and musical director David Loud.

Minimal set by Beowulf Boritt works perfectly within the concept; Toni-Leslie James' costumes combine rags, prison garb and minstrel finery in a just-right mix; and Ken Billington, the one new member of the production team, does a great job weaving dark and light (including a wonderful shadow image consisting of Washington and four chairs during the climactic "You Can't Do Me"). And how refreshing it is that Stroman & Co. choose not to bombard us with the projections and multimedia that usually turn up in shows of this type.

While the Lyceum has seven times the seating capacity of the Vineyard, the stage seems to be slightly narrower, perhaps due to the framing of the proscenium arch. Actors appear to be relatively cramped for space, resulting in a suitably claustrophobic feel and a jolt in voltage that helps account for the increased power of "Scottsboro" in its new home on Broadway.


Variety
11/01/2010

Wall Street Journal: "A Perilous Page of History to Turn The Scottsboro Boys"

Rarely have I been so irked by a Broadway show as I was by "The Scottsboro Boys," which has moved uptown after a much-praised Off-Broadway run. This musical, in which the story of a horrific miscarriage of racial justice is retold in the form of a Mr.-Bonesand-Mr.-Jones minstrel show, is one of the best-staged productions ever to come to Broadway. It is impossible not to be thrilled by the electrifying craftsmanship of Susan Stroman, the director and choreographer. The period pastiches of the John Kander-Fred Ebb score are cunningly wrought, and the ensemble cast, led by John Cullum and Joshua Henry, is as good as it could possibly be. (Mr. Henry, in particular, is surely destined for a Tony nomination.) The problem is that all this formidable talent has been enlisted in the service of a musical so smug that I could scarcely bear to sit and watch it.

I suspect that most of the younger people who come to see "The Scottsboro Boys" won't know much about the Depression-era case that inspired the show, infamous though it once was. Very briefly, then, nine black boys from Georgia and Tennessee (one was 12, the others in their teens) who were riding the rails in search of work in 1931 were pulled off their train in Alabama, arrested by a local posse and accused of raping a pair of white girls who had been riding the same train.

A few days later, having barely escaped lynching, they were convicted and sentenced to death. Their case became a nationwide cause célèbre, and the Supreme Court ruled that they had been denied due process and would have to be retried. But even though one of the women subsequently recanted her original testimony, five of the boys remained behind bars for years to come, the last one being paroled in 1950.

In "The Scottsboro Boys," Messrs. Kander and Ebb (who died in 2004 while writing the musical) and David Thompson, the show's librettist, have compressed this complicated sequence of events into a lengthy one-act musical that makes use of all the theatrical conventions of the old-fashioned blackface minstrel shows that were popular well into the 20th century. (Mr. Kander, who is 83, actually directed blackface shows at a Wisconsin boys' camp in the 1930s.) Except for Mr. Cullum, who plays the master of ceremonies, the performers are all black, and most of the songs, which are written with a grasp of period style that will surprise no one familiar with such earlier Kander-Ebb shows as "Cabaret" and "Chicago," are staged as grotesque parodies of the eye-rolling shuffleand-grin style familiar to anyone who has seen the films of Stepin Fetchit and Mantan Moreland—the trick being that the same style is used to portray white and black characters alike.

The difference between smugness and courage is sometimes, like treason, a matter of dates. "The Scottsboro Boys" would have been courageous had it been mounted on Broadway, or anywhere else in America, in the 1960s. In that long-gone decade, the prospect of watching a stageful of black men perform a "comic" minstrel show about so hideous an event would have stung like a flogging. But the intervening half-century has seen not only the election of a black president but the mounting of musicals like "Ragtime" and "Assassins," in which broadly similar theatrical techniques are used to identical ends, thereby robbing the caricatures in "The Scottsboro Boys" of their shock effect. I suppose there are places in America where such a show might still jolt its viewers, but to see "The Scottsboro Boys" on Broadway is to witness a nightly act of collective self-congratulation in which the right-thinking members of the audience preen themselves complacently at the thought of their own enlightenment.

It's interesting to note that the dialogue scenes showing the nine Scottsboro boys behind bars, which are played straight, pack a greater dramatic punch than any of the musical numbers. I had no trouble imagining a play by Mr. Thompson about the Scottsboro trials that could have introduced a new generation to one of the most troubling episodes in modern American history—but I doubt that any Broadway producer would have sunk a dime into it. In its place, then, we get a musical that slathers this terrible tale in a thick coat of musical-comedy frosting that has been spiked with cheap, elephantine irony. I can't imagine a nastier-tasting recipe.


Wall Street Journal
11/01/2010

Replacement/Transfer Info


The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.


Lyceum Theatre

(10/31/2010 - 12/12/2010)
Assistant Stage Mgr: Robin S. Walker.

Understudies: Robin S. Walker (The Lady).


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