Kander and Ebb's The Scottsboro Boys to Play the Guthrie

By Adam Hetrick
and Kenneth Jones
22 Apr 2010

The Scottsboro Boys stars Rodney Hicks, John Cullum and Brandon Victor Dixon, at the Vineyard Theatre.
The Scottsboro Boys stars Rodney Hicks, John Cullum and Brandon Victor Dixon, at the Vineyard Theatre.
Photo by Carol Rosegg

The Scottsboro Boys, the new John Kander-Fred Ebb musical that played an extended Off-Broadway world-premiere run at the Vineyard Theatre, will arrive at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis July 31 for an eight-week run.

Barry and Fran Weissler, who expressed interest in transferring the production to Broadway in the coming season, are presenting the Guthrie run in association with Jacki Barlia Florin. Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Susan Stroman will recreate her work from the Off-Broadway run of Scottsboro Boys.

The Scottsboro Boys will officially open Aug. 6 on the McGuire Proscenium stage and run through Sept. 25. Members of the Off-Broadway cast and design team are expected to be reunited for the Guthrie run, but no official announcement was made. The Guthrie engagement was announced on April 22.

Tony Award winner Kander penned the score to the dark musical about racial injustice that features lyrics by his late collaborator Ebb. Tony nominee David Thompson (Steel Pier) wrote the book. Kander wrote additional lyrics.

According to the Guthrie, the musical "explores the infamous 'Scottsboro' case of the 1930s, in which a group of African American teenagers was unjustly accused of attacking two white women and the boys' attempts to prove their innocence. The Scottsboro Boys brings this provocative new work to the stage, depicting one of the most important and notorious chapters in the history of the American Civil Rights movement."



The collaborators use the theatrical form of a minstrel show to tell the tale. The Vineyard staging of The Scottsboro Boys ended an extended run April 18 in Manhattan. The show takes a flashpoint in American Civil Rights history and makes it sing, dance and sting. It opened March 10 after previews from Feb. 12.

As with Kander and Ebb's Cabaret and Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Scottsboro Boys has social justice in its heart, salty lyrics on its tongue and rhythmic, banjo-kissed vamps from the band — all in a framework unlike anything seen in the modern musical.

The musical covers the period 1931-37 and was billed in the Vineyard program as "a fictional play based on real events."

At the Vineyard, David Loud was music director, orchestrations were by Larry Hochman, music arrangements were by Glen Kelly, and Paul Masse was conductor and associate music director. The design team included Beowulf Boritt (set), Toni-Leslie James (costumes), Kevin Adams (lighting) and Peter Hylenski (sound).

Guthrie tickets are available by phoning (612) 377-2224 or by visiting GuthrieTheater.