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The Scottsboro Boys

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When I first reviewed The Scottsboro Boys at its British premiere last October for The Stage, I expressed doubts that it would have a commercial life beyond the Young Vic, despite being thrilled that London was getting the chance to see it at all. I’m even more thrilled to be proved entirely wrong and that it is getting a West End run now. My only hope is that it can now become the hit it utterly deserves to be.

Here’s a dazzlingly executed piece of showbusiness panache, and all for a story that truly matters. This is no case of style over content, but a show where the style superbly serves the content. Casting this true story of an appalling act of US racial injustice in 1930s Alabama as a minstrel show creates layer upon ironic layer in which the audience can be bedazzled while also questioning the shocking story that creates such an enjoyable yet chastening show.

It?Äôs a piece that could be said to want you to have your cake-walk and dance it – it really has it both ways in portraying this cruel story of nine young black defendants, aged just 13-19, who were wrongfully accused of the rape of two white women; we are both appalled witnesses but also eagerly lapping up the spectacle.

The piece is powered by an excellent book by David Thompson, and a glinting, brassy score by Kander and Ebb close to their all-time best of Cabaret and Chicago. Susan Stroman’s highly energised production has a blend of Broadway originals and dazzling British company members that make this one of the most thrillingly performed shows in town.

  • Garrick Theatre, London
  • October 4-February 21, PN: October 20
  • Authors: David Thompson book, John Kander, Fred Ebb music, lyrics
  • Director/choreographer: Susan Stroman
  • Design: Beowulf Boritt set, Toni-Leslie James costume, Ken Billington lights, Paul Arditti sound
  • Musical director: Phil Cornwell
  • Technical: Matt Noddings production manager, Heidi Lennard company stage manager, Fiery Angel Partners general management, Jill Green, Gordon Cowell UK Casting
  • Cast: Joshua da Costa, Brandon Victor Dixon, Colman Domingo, Julian Glover, Dawn Hope, Emmanuel Kojo, James T Lane, Dex Lee, Forrest McClendon, Keenan Munn-Francis, Rohan Pinnock-Hamilton, Emile Ruddock, Carl Spencer, Marcia Leeky, Andrew McDonald, Jacade Simpson, Luke Wilson
  • Producers include: Catherine Schreiber, Paula Marie Black, Young Vic
  • Running time: 1hr 50mins

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The Stage
The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising.