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The Scottsboro Boys - Broadway

Susan Stroman directs the world premiere of Kander and Ebb's musical.

Twelve-Year-Old Broadway Scene-Stealer Jeremy Gumbs on Life as a Scottsboro Boy

Twelve-Year-Old Broadway Scene-Stealer Jeremy Gumbs on Life as a Scottsboro Boy
Jeremy Gumbs photographed by Jenny Anderson for
I want to keep going until I shoot 'High School Musical 74.'

Age & Hometown:12. Lawrence, New York

Current Role: Eugene Williams, a 13-year-old falsely accused of sexual assault in the Kander & Ebb Broadway musical The Scottsboro Boys.

Boy, Oh Boy: A standout in a cast filled with experienced adult actors, Gumbs is in awe of the company he’s keeping in The Scottsboro Boys. “I’m learning from legends,” the young star gushes. At the show’s first rehearsal, “[Director] Susan Stroman hugged me and pointed over to [composer] John Kander and said, ‘He did Chicago, Cabaret, New York, New York.’ I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ I call this show my 700-page history book, and I’m on page five. I’m learning so much.”

Precocious Performer: His stage poise is no surprise: Gumbs aced his first audition when he was still in a stroller. “I had to act like I was reading a book, so I made the decision to pretend it was The Three Little Pigs, even though it wasn’t.” By age eight, he was touring America as Young Simba in The Lion King, returning home to make his Broadway debut in the show. Future plans? “I want to keep going until I shoot High School Musical 74," he jokes. "And want to be a director—action, thrillers, sci-fi, maybe some comedies.”

Show of a Lifetime: When he first heard the true story of the Scottsboro case, involving nine African-American “boys” accused of rape in 1930s Alabama, “I got teary-eyed,” Gumbs says. The cast gathers every night for a pre-show prayer circle “where we all rejoice and get really happy even though we know we’re going to get drained.” But the intensity of the show, performed without an intermission in high-energy minstrel style, is worth it. “We’re telling the boys’ story on a Broadway stage,” Gumbs marvels. “How could it get any better than that?”

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