STEP RIGHT UP AND MEET
COLMAN DOMINGO IS MR. BONES
MR. BONES: The traditional minstrel show incorporates the antics of the two end men known as Mr. Tambo and Mr. Bones. The two are called upon by the Interlocutor to sing songs, tell jokes as well as play a variety of different characters in skits and stories.
One of the characters portrayed by Mr. Bones in the musical “The Scottsboro Boys” is based on Wade Wright, the Solicitor of Morgan County, Alabama. Wright assisted Attorney General Thomas Knight in the prosecution of the nine Scottsboro Boys. In the summation of the second trial in 1933, Wright uttered a statement that moved thousands of Jews around the country to protest. Wright said to the jury, “Now the question in this case is this: is justice in the case going to be bought and sold in Alabama with Jew money from New York?” The comments were directed at New York lawyer Samuel Leibowitz who represented the boys. The comment was also intended to denigrate the involvement of the International Labor Defense, the legal arm of the Communist Party.
Anti-Semitism in the south was a roiling undercurrent throughout the trials of the Scottsboro Boys. Dan T. Carter, in his book Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South, wrote, “Wade Wright’s anti-Semitic summation was the most effective single statement by the counsel for the prosecution … The chant of ‘Jew money’ at Decatur had damaged the standing of Southern Jews even more than the fulminations of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920’s.”
In his own summation, Samuel Leibowitz said, “Now, as for the Jew money from New York, let me say this: That when the hour of our country’s need came there was no question of Jew or gentile, of black or white – all, all together braved the smoke and flame of Flanders Fields.” But the statement fell on deaf ears. The twin evils of racism and anti-Semitism had already joined forces
COLMAN DOMINGO created the role of Mr. Bones in The Scottsboro Boys at the Vineyard and Guthrie Theaters. Broadway: Chicago, Passing Strange, Well. Off-Broadway: A Boy and His Soul (Vineyard), The Wiz (City Center), Passing Strange and Henry V (NYSF/Public), and Bright Ideas (MCC). Regional: Coming Home (Long Wharf), People’s Temple (Guthrie/ Berkeley Rep), Well and Journey to the West (Huntington), The Lily’s Revenge (Sundance). Film: Passing Strange, Miracle at St. Ana, King of the Bingo Game, Freedomland, Kung Phooey, Around the Fire and True Crime. Television: “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” “Law and Order: Trial By Jury,” “Law and Order” and “Nash Bridges”. Awards: OBIE, Connecticut Critics Circle and Bay Area Theater Critics Circle. GLAAD Nominee.
THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS begins performances October 7 and opens October 31 at the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street).
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