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The Scottsboro Boys featured in Minneapolis Star Tribune

GUTHRIE THEATER READIES FOR PRE-BROADWAY RUN OF
KANDER & EBB’S

THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS

Minneapolis Star Tribune chronicles the show’s journey to Broadway via Minneapolis

http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/onstage/99557929.html

(Minneapolis/St. Paul) The Scottsboro Boys began preview performances this past weekend at the Guthrie Theater, kicking off an eight-week engagement through September 25. The critically-acclaimed production, directed by five-time Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman and featuring a book by David Thompson, comes to the Guthrie following a sold-out Off-Broadway run at the Vineyard Theatre earlier this year. Immediately following its Guthrie run, the production will move to Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre, where it will begin performances on October 7 in advance of its official October 31, 2010, opening.

Minneapolis Star Tribune theater writer Graydon Royce recently spoke with members of the cast and creative team in chronicling the show’s journey to Broadway.

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SONGS OF INNOCENCE

by Graydon Royce

Star Tribune (July 30, 2010)

(Minneapolis) Producer Barry Weissler remembers that it was cold in 2005 when he launched a show in Minneapolis. Perhaps icy critical reaction to “Sweet Charity” colored his memory, because it was 40 degrees that balmy February when the revival opened at the Orpheum Theatre.

“Charity’s” travails were legend, but Weissler knows that success on Broadway demands that you shrug off failure’s chill and get back into the heat of pursuit. His latest gamble is “The Scottsboro Boys,” which previews Saturday for an eight-week run on the Guthrie Theater’s proscenium stage and opens Oct. 7 on Broadway. It is the first production to move directly from the Guthrie to Broadway since Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “Teibele and Her Demon” transferred in 1979.

“I need to see where this piece stands,” Weissler said last week when asked why he’s bringing “The Scottsboro Boys” to the Guthrie. “I do believe it has a chance on Broadway, but it won’t be an easy sell.”

No, a musical based on the case of nine black teenagers wrongly accused of rape in the 1930s, isn’t as bankable as, say, a dancing green ogre (“Shrek”) or a flying green witch (“Wicked”). But Weissler’s faith in “Scottsboro” is not without merit. This was the final musical by fabled songwriters John Kander and Fred Ebb (“Cabaret,” “Chicago,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman”) and it is directed by Broadway superstar Susan Stroman (five Tony wins, including directing “The Producers”). Too, despite a mixed critical response, the show did turn-away business last spring off-Broadway — albeit at the 130-seat Vineyard Theatre.

Weissler wanted a larger stage where he could work out the bugs, so he called Guthrie Director Joe Dowling (“Joe and I are old friends”) and invited him for a look. The Vineyard production hooked Dowling and he agreed to bring “The Scottsboro Boys” to Minneapolis.

“I’m always nervous about the Guthrie becoming too connected with commercial theater,” Dowling said, “but I immediately recognized that it is exactly the kind of piece we should be doing at the Guthrie.”

The Guthrie has flirted with this kind of endeavor recently — dipping its toe into commercial theater with “Little House on the Prairie” and then giving Tony Kushner a chance to launch his “Intelligent Homosexual.” Because Dowling had a hole in his summer schedule, he agreed to produce “The Scottsboro Boys” with Weissler kicking in supplementary funds.

“The production that people will see here is very much the production they’ll see on Broadway,” Dowling said.

[Continue to the full Star Tribune story]

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The Scottsboro Boys began preview performances in Minneapolis on July 31. The production opens August 6 and continues through September 25, 2010, on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. Single tickets start at $29 and are now on sale through the Guthrie Box Office at 612.377.2224, toll-free 877.44.STAGE, 612.225.6244 (Group Sales) and online at www.guthrietheater.org.

The GUTHRIE THEATER (Joe Dowling, Director) was founded by Sir Tyrone Guthrie in 1963 and is an American center for theater performance, production, education and professional training. The Tony Award-winning Guthrie Theater is dedicated to producing the great works of dramatic literature, developing the work of contemporary playwrights and cultivating the next generation of theater artists. With annual attendance of nearly 500,000 people, the Guthrie Theater presents a mix of classic plays and contemporary work on its three stages. Under the artistic leadership of Joe Dowling since 1995, the Guthrie continues to set a national standard for excellence in theatrical production and performance. In 2006, the Guthrie opened its new home on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, the Guthrie Theater houses three state-of-the-art stages, production facilities, classrooms and dramatic public lobbies.

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