The Scottsboro Boys
In rural Alabama in 1931, nine young African-American males are arrested and tried for a crime involving two white women. Performed as a minstrel show, the musical gives voice to the persistent theme of justice in America.
“The Scottsboro Boys” has moved from downtown to uptown. I liked it when I saw it downtown, even though as a southerner, I actually knew the story of “The Scottsboro Boys”, which was not exactly stuff on which musicals are usually based. On the other hand, what about “Kiss of the Spider Woman” or “Chicago”. There are a lot of musicals, especially by Kander and Ebb which this is by, that don’t exactly make you grin at the end of the experience. And as one of the review says, okay, what we’ve got is no famous stars, check; a nasty time in American history, check; minstrel show, politically incorrect, check. By having said all of that, this is something that actually works better. Uptown, I think it’s gotten slicker and tighter. And they’ve also replaced the leading man. I don’t remember who he was downtown. And I’m sure he was fine. But uptown the leading guy is Joshua Henry, who is very charismatic and really leads the cast in a way that didn’t happen downtown. But this is one of those theatrical experiences that if you get past your queasiness, which you should, it’s something that’s both entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time, and there’s not that much theatre like this as is. So go see “The Scottsboro Boys”. Yeah, the ticket prices are a little high, yet it certainly will make you squirm in terms of its racism, but it’s also meaningful art and that’s not that easy to find these days. So I give it four and a half stars.