Susan Stroman directs the world premiere of Kander and Ebb's musical.
What Is the Story of The Scottsboro Boys?
In rural Scottsboro, Alabama, in 1931, nine young African-Americans are pulled from a train and accused of raping two white women. Although the men (including one underage teen) are not guilty, they endure multiple trials, convictions and appeals, including several in which they are defended by a New York lawyer sent to Alabama by the Communist party. Surrounded by racism, they attempt to prevail in an infamous case that helped give rise to the modern Civil Rights movement.
What Is The Scottsboro Boys Like?
The final musical by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, Curtains) is presented in the style of a minstrel show. Along with one white cast member (who plays an emcee known as the Interlocutor, the Alabama governor and a judge), the African-American cast morphs from the Scottsboro boys into female roles (including the white accusers), various police officers, and even the men’s Jewish attorney. Between musical numbers, two top-hatted narrators, Mr. Bones and Mr. Tambo, set the scene and tell vaudeville-style jokes. The stage is empty except for chairs that are transformed into train cars, jail cells and other props. Kander and Ebb have written a lovely, hummable score that illuminates a serious story with grace and insight. Director/choreographer Susan Stroman (The Producers, Young Frankenstein) keeps the action moving and draws vivid performances from a versatile cast.
Is The Scottsboro Boys Good for Kids?
The staging is sophisticated and satirical, and parents should consider at what age their children can understand a musical built around a false accusation of rape.