The road to Broadway has been nothing, if not long and circuitous, for John Kander and the late Fred Ebb's The Scottsboro Boys. But this evening, the musical finally reaches the Main Stem as previews begin at the Lyceum Theatre.
The road's been long, not the least of which is because Ebb died over six years ago on September 11, 2004. Circuitous, because after enjoying a sold-out world premiere engagement earlier this year at New York City's Vineyard Theatre, the tuner was taken out of town for a real honest-to-goodness tryout in Minneapolis.
Just two months ago yesterday, I was extraordinarily fortunate to see the show on its opening night at the Twin Cities' prestigious Guthrie. I was pretty much blown away by Susan Stroman's inventive direction, her sterling cast (most of whom are coming to Broadway) and Kander and Ebb's evocative score. That's quite a feat to behold considering that it's based on the true Depression-era story of nine African-Americans falsely accused of rape in the Deep South.
Not only does the official Web site for The Scottsboro Boys offer up an excellent history of the show's namesakes, but it also describes the show as follows:
The Scottsboro Boys is the thrilling final collaboration by musical theatre giants John Kander and Fred Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret). This critically-acclaimed production comes to Broadway following a sold-out run at the Vineyard Theatre.
Directed by 5-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman (The Producers) and featuring a book by David Thompson (who adapted the script for Chicago's record-breaking revival), this daring and wildly entertaining musical explores a fascinating chapter in American history with arresting originality. The show is based on the notorious "Scottsboro" case in the 1930s, in which 9 African-American men were unjustly accused of a terrible crime.Nearly every other actor I saw at the Guthrie will be joining John Cullum on Broadway (Cullum created the role of the Interlocutor at the Vineyard, but skipped Minneapolis.) They include Colman Domingo as Mr. Bones, Forrest McClendon as Mr. Tambo, Sharon Washington as the Lady, and as The Scottsboro Boys: James T. Lane (replacing and Sean Bradford as Ozie Powell), Josh Breckenridge (Olen Montgomery), Derrick Cobey (Andy Wright), Joshua Henry (Haywood Patterson), Rodney Hicks (Clarence Norris), Kendrick Jones (Willie Roberson), Julius Thomas III (Roy Wright), Christian Dante White (Charles Weems) and Jeremy Gumbs (Eugene Williams).
Their shocking and inspiring story - told though a mix of innovative staging and piercing new songs -- demands to be shared. So gather 'round... and join The Scottsboro Boys on their remarkable journey.
If I hadn't already seen The Scottsboro Boys in August, this most certainly would have ranked as my personal pick in the poll question I've asked here. But make no mistake, I'll most definitely be making a point to see The Scottsboro Boys once again after it opens October 31.
The Scottsboro Boys may very well be the most important new musical opening all season.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.