California Bookings of Scottsboro Boys Confirmed; Seattle, Boston, Chicago Being Eyed
By Kenneth Jones
Dates for West Coast engagements of the 12-time Tony Award-nominated musical The Scottsboro Boys have now been made public by The Old Globe in San Diego and American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.
As previously reported by Playbill.com, the provocative Broadway musical that on May 3 snagged 12 2011 Tony Award nominations — despite the fact that the show closed on Broadway last fall — will resurface with the same creative team and (if schedules allow) members of the original Broadway cast, under Broadway director-choreographer Susan Stroman.
In a co-production scenario, The Scottsboro Boys will play The Old Globe April 22-June 3, 2012, followed by ACT June 19-July 15, 2012.
Barry Weissler, one of the producers of the fall Broadway staging, told Playbill.com on May 4, "[These are] LORT sitdown [productions] but we're finding a way to connect the LORT theatres. Hopefully, we'll be able to work our way across the country." He added that discussions with resident not-for-profit theatres in Seattle, Chicago and Boston are ongoing. When asked if the show might leap-frog back to Broadway for a limited engagement in late 2012, Weissler shrugged and said, "Well, we hope."
The original Tony-nominated creative team will reunite for the West Coast bow. Its 2011 Tony Award nominations include Best Musical, Best Score (John Kander and Fred Ebb), Best Book (David Thompson) and Best Direction and Choreography (Stroman).
The darkly comic show borrows the conventions of the outmoded "minstrel show" to tell a fact-inspired tale of racial injustice. The Scottsboro Boys launched at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre in spring 2010, spawned a cast album, had further development at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in late summer and then opened on Broadway in the fall. The reviews were mixed (from tepid and encouraging to wildly enthusiastic). Despite a cult of fans, the show did not catch fire at the box office; protests from a group concerned about the pointedly satiric minstrelsy on display did not seem to have any negative effect on the box office.
The Scottsboro Boys was one of the final collaborations between the longtime songwriting team of John Kander and the late Fred Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret, Kiss of the Spider Woman). Composer Kander assumed some lyric-writing duties for the project following the death of his co-writer.
The Scottsboro Boys tells the true story of nine black youths accused of raping two white women in the Depression-era South.
The Broadway production was also nominated for Tonys in the categories of Scenic Design (Beowulf Boritt), Featured Actor in a Musical (Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon as Mr. Bones and Mr. Tambo), Best Leading Actor in a Musical (Joshua Henry), Orchestrations (Larry Hochman), Sound Design (Peter Hylenski) and Lighting Design (Ken Billington).
Composer John Kander, director Susan Stroman and their collaborators talk about reinventing the minstrel form:
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