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Minnesota Public Radio explores John Kander’s “most important theatrical piece”



Minnesota Public Radio’s Euan Kerr talks to John Kander

>> Listen to the radio interview <<

(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.



by Euan Kerr

Minnesota Public Radio (August , 2010)

St. Paul, Minn. — John Kander, half of the Kander and Ebb team which wrote the musicals “Cabaret,” and “Chicago,” is in Minnesota working on a new show. He says it’s possibly his most important theatrical piece.

“The Scottsboro Boys,” which opens Friday at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, tells the story of a pivotal civil rights case.

Kander was born in 1928, three years before the Scottsboro incident. He remembers reading about it as a boy.

“There would be a Scottsboro story in the paper at least once a week,” he says.

In March 1931, police took nine African Americans off a freight train in Scottsboro, Ala. after a fight with a group of white youths. The officers were surprised to find two women, in the same car.

The women, both white, accused the Scottsboro boys of rape.

Word spread quickly and a lynch mob of thousands assembled. The authorities stopped the mob by promising a speedy trial, conviction and execution for the defendants. Twelve days later, the Scottsboro boys trials began. All but one, who was a minor, were convicted and sentenced to death.

The trials were deeply flawed, with tainted witnesses, all-white juries, and an unprepared defense. A new lawyer launched a series of appeals, and in the years following the cases went repeatedly to the U.S. Supreme court. Eventually the courts vindicated and released all of the Scottsboro Boys. It was an early victory for what was to become the civil rights movement.

Then, Kander, says something else happened.

“I’m old enough to remember when this story was forgotten,” he says wryly.

[Continue to the full Minnesota Public Radio story]


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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