Mulling a Resurrection of Scottsboro, Barry Weissler Takes Temperature of Theatregoers; Tour Eyed

News   Mulling a Resurrection of Scottsboro, Barry Weissler Takes Temperature of Theatregoers; Tour Eyed Producer Barry Weissler is seeking support from the theatre-going public to bring the just-closed musical The Scottsboro Boys back to Broadway in spring 2011.

Rodney Hicks (standing) and Joshua Henry
Rodney Hicks (standing) and Joshua Henry Photo by Paul Kolnik

Numbers are being crunched, a spokesman said, and an unusual online effort has begun at scottsboromusical.com.

Theatregoers are being encouraged to "return The Scottsboro Boys to Broadway!" by showing an intention to buy a $99 ticket if the musical show is re-mounted in spring 2011. Here's the message on the website: "By providing my email [address] below, I hereby pledge my support for The Scottsboro Boys to return this spring. Once a theatre and dates have been announced, I intend to purchase tickets at the special price of $99. Spread the word and get your friends to pledge!"

Such a pledge is not a legally binding agreement, but it does take the temperature of the theatre-going public.

The Scottsboro Boys closed Dec. 12 at the Lyceum Theatre, and Weissler has since heard an outcry from fans and potential theatregoers saying they wish the show could return.

"I am challenging them," Weissler told Playbill.com on Dec. 16. "Let them put their money where their emails are." He called the final performance of the short-lived show "one of the most emotional, exciting evenings of my theatre life."

Whether or not there is a Broadway return for the fact-based dramatic musical by John Kander, Fred Ebb and David Thompson, Weissler revealed that he is in discussions about a future tour that would include stops at not-for-profit theatres that have built-in audiences that would embrace the tricky material.

The show tells the story of nine African-American boys unjustly jailed for a crime they did not commit in 1931 Alabama. The case was a flashpoint that prefigured the Civil Rights movement.

Tony Award winner Susan Stroman directed and choreographed the musical, which played 29 previews and 49 performances at the Lyceum. Ticket sales could not support the commercial run any longer. This was the last musical that composer Kander and lyricist Ebb were working on at the time of Ebb's death in 2004.

Weissler said in an earlier prepared statement, "We've heard from people who told us what a difference The Scottsboro Boys made in their lives — how the show changed their perception of what a Broadway musical can do. We've also heard from countess others who have expressed disappointment that they missed seeing the show on Broadway and who were unable to get to us before our untimely closing. In the final two weeks of our run, we also witnessed some of the most extraordinary audience response I've experienced in over 40 years of producing theatre. We've seen similar passion on our Facebook and Twitter pages and in the audience reviews at our show website, www.scottsboromusical.com."

The statement continued, "In 1931, the world came together to fight against the terrible injustice that occurred to these nine innocent African American teenagers. Their story has too often been overlooked, but now, almost 80 years later, we'd love nothing more than to keep the story of the Scottsboro Boys alive. Rumors have been circulating about a return limited engagement for The Scottsboro Boys this spring, but we cannot do this without the support of the ticket-buying public. We encourage those who would like to have The Scottsboro Boys return to Broadway to sign up with the intent to purchase tickets for a spring limited engagement. If we can make the numbers work, we will be back."

Composer John Kander, director Susan Stroman and their collaborators talk about reinventing the minstrel form:

 

 

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