Susan Stroman, who was double Tony-nominated for her work as director and choreographer, will reprise both those duties here. In a press statement about bringing the show to London now, she said, "I am thrilled David Lan [the theatre's artistic director] and the Young Vic are bringing The Scottsboro Boys to London audiences. Like Chicago and Cabaret before it, Kander and Ebb have written a musical about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The injustices endured by these nine young men are still unresolved, and threaten to remain so unless we engage in a dialogue about them. This is a story that needs to be told – and remembered. Our hope is The Scottsboro Boys is a way to start the conversation and to carry it forward."
David Lan added, "The story of the Scottsboro Boys is an infamous case in the history of American civil rights. Who else but Kander and Ebb could see in it the possibility of a musical? It's a truly visionary work - a plea for social harmony but, even more important, for justice. From the moment I heard about it, I knew it was a natural for us. I'm thrilled that John Kander, David Thompson and Susan Stroman have agreed to give it new life with us at the Young Vic."
With a book by Thompson, the show tells the true story of nine young black men, aged between 12 and 19, traveling on a train through Scottsboro, AL, in 1931 in search of a new life. By the end of their journey, their lives had been changed forever by the devastating effect of a single lie. Two white women falsely accused the nine of rape. Even though one of the women later recanted her accusation and in spite of a total absence of evidence, the boys were convicted. Their subsequent trials and appeals, lasting seven years, deeply divided the nation. Their trial led to the passage of two pivotal Supreme Court rulings, including the right to proper legal representation and the right to trial by a jury of one's peers, specifically ensuring that black people could no longer be excluded from juries. But back in 1931, behind the screaming headlines, nine young men were desperate to prove to the world that they were human beings and that they mattered.
Casting is still to be announced. It will be presented by the Young Vic and Catherine Schreiber, the Tony-winning producer of Clybourne Park who has also been represented on Broadway by Peter and the Starcatcher, The Scottsboro Boys, Next Fall, The Anarchist and Stick Fly.