Will The Scottsboro Boys Return to Broadway in Time for Tonys?

News   Will The Scottsboro Boys Return to Broadway in Time for Tonys?
Producer Barry Weissler told the Wall Street Journal that he plans to tour The Scottsboro Boys and hopes to bring it back to Broadway in the spring, in time for the Tony Awards season.

Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon
Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon Photo by Paul Kolnik

As previously reported, the Kander & Ebb musical about a famous case of American injustice ends its Broadway run Dec. 12, six weeks after opening. Although the historically powerful New York Times review was not a rave, solid reviews surfaced after the Oct. 31 opening. Nevertheless, sales were soft, prompting producers Barry and Fran Weissler and Jacki Barlia Florin to close the production.

Playbill.com is seeking independent confirmation of a possible future life for the show. Playbill learned that as of the afternoon of Dec. 10, the cast had not been officially informed of a future plan.

The ambitious Scottsboro Boys illustrates the events surrounding the conviction of nine African-American boys for a crime they did not commit in Depression-era Alabama. With a libretto by David Thompson and direction and choreography by Susan Stroman, the show borrows (and reinvents) the outmoded and racist theatrical form of the minstrel show to mock the establishment and empower the victims.

Composer John Kander and late lyricist Fred Ebb have a history of satiric, comic and and/or sentimental approaches to social injustice, as illustrated in their musicals Cabaret, Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman.

The Scottsboro Boys premiered at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre in spring 2010, when Barry and Fran Weissler committed to its commercial future. A cast album was recorded. It next played a tryout at the Guthrie Theater in September and then moved to Broadway's Lyceum Theatre Oct. 7, opening Oct. 31. Broadway groundbreakers Kander (composer) and Ebb (lyricist) — whose work also includes Woman of the Year, Zorba, The Rink, The Visit, The Happy Time and more — share both music and lyric credit here, with Kander supplying additional lyrics. Ebb died in 2004. When Kander, Thompson and Stroman resumed work on the show, Kander told them he would write new lyrics, "channeling" Ebb. He told Playbill.com on Oct. 6 that about two-thirds of the score was complete at the time of Ebb's passing, and that he doesn't intend to tell people what his own new lyric/song contributions are. He's hoping the score is a seamless piece of cloth.

At close, The Scottsboro Boys will have played 49 performances and 29 previews.


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