CRITICS RAVE FOR
THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS, the thrilling final collaboration by musical theatre giants John Kander and Fred Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret), opened Sunday, October 31 at the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street).
Based on the notorious “Scottsboro” case in the 1930s (in which nine African-American men were unjustly accused of a terrible crime) this daring and wildly entertaining musical explores a fascinating chapter in American history with brilliant originality. The production is directed and choreographed by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman (The Producers) and features a book by David Thompson (who adapted the script for Chicago‘s record-breaking revival.
THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS stars John Cullum as Interlocutor, Joshua Henry as Haywood Patterson, Colman Domingo as Mr. Bones, Forrest McClendon as Mr. Tambo, Sharon Washington as The Lady, Josh Breckenridge as Olen Montgomery, Derrick Cobey as Andy Wright, Jeremy Gumbs as Eugene Williams, Rodney Hicks as Clarence Norris, Kendrick Jones as Willie Roberson, James T. Lane as Ozie Powell and Ruby Bates, Julius Thomas III as Roy Wright, and Christian Dante White as Charles Weems and Victoria Price. The production also features E. Clayton Cornelious, JC Montgomery, Clinton Roane and Robin S. Walker.
Here’s a sample of what critics had to say about THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS on Broadway:
“Adventurous and dynamic! Directed and choreographed with dazzling verve by Susan Stroman, who offers some of her most vibrant work since The Producers. A terrific cast. Kander and Ebb have written a zesty score. Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon are brilliant caricaturists. Joshua Henry gives a performance of keen intensity.”
–Charles Isherwood, The New York Times
“A memorable musical. Thoughtful, vibrant entertainment!”
–Elysa Gardner, USA Today
“**** (out of four)! A boldly stylized, defiantly razzle-dazzle look at true events that underscore the bankruptcy of institutions and the nasty things people do to each other. The story has a resounding emotional charge, but we also clearly see the cruel, almost cartoonish absurdity of it all. The show is vibrantly alive. A thrillingly inventive and entertaining night at the theater. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be moved. What could be more Broadway than that?”
–Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post
“Sharp, snappy, imaginative and heartfelt. Smartly directed by Susan Stroman. John Cullum has just the right curdled politesse as the Interlocutor. Joshua Henry beautifully wrenches us through the contradictions of minstrel stereotypes and the terrible truth. Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon find the menace in the razzle-dazzle. A young talent, Jeremy Gumbs is outstanding.”
– Linda Winer, Newsday
“Exciting and worthwhile and a slice of history that needs to be known. A provocative story, rousing staging, a fine score and a hugely talented cast. Direction and choreography by Susan Stroman is polished and precise. Joshua Henry is tough and tender. John Cullum brings mild-mannered menace as the minstrel emcee, while Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon create vivid portraits as the right-hand men.”
-Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News
“A powerful and provocative musical. An absolute marvel. The creators — including director and choreographer Susan Stroman and book writer David Thompson — walk a fine line between satire and alienation, but emerge with what surely must be the edgiest play on Broadway.”
-Mark Kennedy, Associated Press
“Stronger, tighter and even more impactful than the already distinguished show on display last spring. This one is right up there with Cabaret and Chicago. Director-choreographer Stroman delivers her most creative and effective work in years.”
-Steven Suskin, Variety
“Arresting theater. From the first ominous pounding of a bass drum and rattle of a tambourine, the score is vintage Kander & Ebb, marrying buoyant entertainment with a sinister double edge. Joshua Henry is a terrific addition in the central role of Haywood, a powerfully masculine presence full of smoldering rage and righteous indignation. Stroman’s work has economy, precision and subversive showmanship. This bold musical keeps you tapping your feet while it socks you with an emotional punch to the gut.
-David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
“ * * * * (out of four)! Smashing and shocking! Kander & Ebb’s valedictory musical. The story is wrenching and the songs rank with Kander and Ebb’s most gorgeous”
-Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg News
“Grade: A! This is the best new musical of the year. A cause for rejoicing. The actors are terrific — and the effect is to underscore both the horror of the Scottsboro case as well as the ways in which popular culture has reinforced racial stereotyping. The score is gorgeously and memorably melodic, Kander and Ebb’s best since 1993’s Kiss of the Spider Woman. Director Susan Stroman stages the production in a strikingly simple fashion. Stroman and her team have managed to strike the perfect tonal balance for this potentially explosive material, spotlighting the steely dignity and quiet defiance of the individuals on stage.”
–Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly
“It’s a story of brazen injustice, and the show’s theatrical provocations are proportionately broad and basic. The point-blank theatrical force of the show cannot be denied: The talent onstage is so lavish it overwhelms our comfortable pieties with pure showmanship, conjuring your applause in waves. Director and choreographer Susan Stroman puts nothing between you and her ensemble, a peerless collection of triple threats who execute her airborne hoofery with grace and violence. As Haywood Patterson, Joshua Henry (American Idiot) does the near impossible: He takes that unluckiest of suicide missions, the earnest angry-young-man role, and brands it onto the back wall of your brain. The Scottsboro Boys isn’t a precision-guided social endoscopy: It’s a single, stunning blow to the temple. And on its own discomfiting, blunt-force terms, it’s utterly successful.
–Scott Brown, New York
“The legendary songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb delivers catchy, sultry and cynical songs. Susan Stroman creates some of her best work! One of the best-staged productions ever to come to Broadway. It is impossible not to be thrilled by the electrifying craftsmanship of Susan Stroman, the director/choreographer. The period pastiches of the John Kander-Fred Ebb score are cunningly wrought and the ensemble cast, led by John Cullum and Joshua Henry us as good as it could possibly be. (Mr Henry, in particular, is destined for a Tony nomination.”
–Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal
“Often brilliant. The Scottsboro Boys is a lot for Broadway audiences to take. But is it too much to ask that they do?”
– Hilton Als, The New Yorker
“The musicals of Kander and Ebb, and really only the musicals of Kander and Ebb, make us see that mass-entertainment forms embrace the dark side because we spend so much time there ourselves. The show is stuffed with bravura, impassioned, individual performances that fuse into an inestimably powerful ensemble.”
– Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
“Audacious, tremendously illuminating theater. Susan Stroman’s expert staging of the material entertains and provokes in equal measure. Kander and Ebb’s score is exceptional. A couple of the songs ranks among my all-time favorites…David Thompson’s book remains compelling. The performances are even better.”
–Roma Torre, NY1
“The Scottsboro Boys leaves you disturbed, entertained and just a little bit prouder of Broadway.”
-Richard Zoglin, Time
“Now more than ever, The Scottsboro Boys grabs audiences as soon as the members of the ensemble burst down the aisles of the theater and never lets go…Like the show’s score, which references cakewalks, New Orleans jazz, ragtime, and gospel, Stroman’s choreography is a mélange of styles and often surprises with its ability to find humor in even the saddest situations.”
–Andy Propst, TheaterMania.com
“At last we have an intelligent musical about racism in American history and politicians who failed to do the right thing. Kander’s music is outstanding, melodious and memorable. There is not a single measure of music that I don’t adore. The opening number is not just a toe-tapper, but a both-feet tapper. What a jewel of a beautiful song is “Go Back Home,” as the lads dream of being released. When they have reason to believe that they’ll soon be released and their troubles will be over, they joyfully celebrate in “Shout!” Our hearts break even more because we know they’re only at the beginning of their torturous journey. I’ve just described less than half of the score, but the rest of it is equally stunning. We should be grateful for Kander & Ebb’s bravery in choosing subject matter and their excellence in conveying it.”
–Peter Filichia, TheaterMania.com
“Absolutely riveting. Brilliant. The best thing Susan Stroman has done since The Producers. It will keep you enthralled!”
–David Richardson, WOR Radio
“This look at a monstrous, racially motivated miscarriage of justice in the Depression-era South, staged in the form of a minstrel show, packs quite a punch. It’s a satisfying finale for the legendary songwriting team. Director-choreographer Susan Stroman’s staging is exemplary. The Scottsboro Boys sets a high bar for Broadway musicals this season.”
-Erik Haagensen, Backstage
“**** (out of four)! Brilliant, subversive, daring, and heartbreaking. A true story that needs to be remembered. Susan Stroman’s seamlessly staged production is inventive and athletic. John Cullum displays authoritative presence and Southern authenticity. Joshua Henry brings a defiant spirit to the role of Haywood Patterson.”
-Matt Windman, AMNY
“Thrilling musical theater. A knockout production. The presentational style and broad comedy of minstrelsy brightens what otherwise would be a gloomy tale…That a racially stereotypical funfest can be employed both to illustrate and comment upon racism is a keen notion ably developed by the writers and realized through Stroman’s dynamite staging…Between the song-and-dance episodes, Thompson’s contrasting realistic scenes are enacted with force. The company is terrific. Unerring expertise in writing, staging, design and performance makes this show so exciting. The Scottsboro Boys proves once again that the old school still rules.”
-Michael Sommers, New Jersey Newsroom
Highlights from THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS on Twitter:
Here are three words for you: The Scottsboro Boys. One of the best nights of theater IN MY LIFE. Tonights experience of The Scottsboro Boys makes me so proud to call myself a theater girl. Wow. What a night. At the curtain call, I was SOBBINg. Not crying. Sobbing. I loved every morsal of this piece. Kander/Ebb/Stroman/thompson equals amazing.
Run don’t walk to see the new musical: “The Scottsboro Boys” – Kander & Ebb never disappoint – it will blow you away!
Run, don’t walk to see The Scottsboro Boys. Amazing piece of theater. Congratulations to the whole company!
The Scottsboro Boys was wonderful. Wow! And instant full house standing ovation. Highly recommended!
THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS OPENING NIGHT COVERAGE
Opening Night photo coverage:
Opening Night video coverage:
Word of Mouth Review:
Playbill on Opening Night column:
Opening Night photo coverage:
Opening Night photo coverage: