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Scottsboro Boys
     

The Scottsboro Boys

5.0 1
by Original Off-Broadway Cast
 
It can take a musical a long time to reach Broadway. When lyricist Fred Ebb died in 2004, he and his composing partner John Kander had last had a show on Broadway with 1997's Steel Pier, but they had several projects in various stages of completion. One of these was Curtains, which reached Broadway in 2007. Another is The

Overview

It can take a musical a long time to reach Broadway. When lyricist Fred Ebb died in 2004, he and his composing partner John Kander had last had a show on Broadway with 1997's Steel Pier, but they had several projects in various stages of completion. One of these was Curtains, which reached Broadway in 2007. Another is The Scottsboro Boys, which had an Off-Broadway production represented by this cast recording and released as the show was preparing to transfer to Broadway in 2010. One characteristic of Kander & Ebb musicals is a tendency to tell stories, sometimes dark stories, within the frame of some show business form. Thus, Cabaret, although it is about the rise of Nazism, is set partly in a nightclub, and Chicago, a tale of murder and celebrity, is set within a burlesque production. To tell the story of the Scottsboro boys, the nine black youths who were unjustly convicted of rape in Alabama in the '30s, Kander & Ebb hit upon the odd theatrical frame of the minstrel show, odd because minstrel shows predate the era of the Scottsboro boys by 30 years or so. Nevertheless, the characters are seen first in their minstrel roles, then in the story itself, with the music adhering to the popular styles of the late 19th century, including ragtime and cakewalk. (About halfway through, Kander starts slipping into his comfort zone of '20s jazz sounds, which may be inconsistent, but at least it's closer to the real time period of the show.) Actually, there is even a frame around the frame, since the minstrel show seems to be occurring in the memory of a woman waiting for a bus who turns out to be Rosa Parks, instigator of the Montgomery bus boycott for Civil Rights in the '50s. This may all seem like a bit too much framing, but at least it gives Kander & Ebb a handle on making a musical out of an extremely dark story in American history. Multiple trials and the recantation of one of the alleged victims do not set the young men free, and the show follows a downward trajectory; but at least the music is lively. Of course, many of the same aspects can be found in Chicago, if not the racial angle. The performers, almost all of them male, even playing most of the female parts, are accomplished, and there are some excellent Kander & Ebb songs here. No doubt some viewers, as well as listeners, will find the minstrel show format off-putting with its connotations of racism, but then racism is the point of this musical, and the creators have found a variety of ways to immerse their audience in it.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/12/2010
Label:
Jay Records
UPC:
0605288142123
catalogNumber:
1421

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Original Off-Broadway Cast   Primary Artist
John Kander   Vocals
Ernie Collins   Tuba,Upright Bass
Donald Downs   Trumpet,Cornet
Andrew Sterman   Clarinet,Flute,Bass Clarinet,Piccolo
Paul Masse   Piano,Conductor,Harmonium
John Cullum   Vocals
Bruce Doctor   Percussion,Drums
Justin Smith   Violin
Rodney Hicks   Vocals
Colman Domingo   Vocals
Charley Gordon   Trombone
Brandon Victor Dixon   Vocals
Greg Utzig   Banjo,Guitar,Harmonica,Mandolin,Ukulele
Sharon Washington   Vocals
Sean Bradford   Vocals
Kendrick Jones   Vocals
Julius Thomas   Vocals
Josh Breckenridge   Vocals
Forrest McClendon   Vocals
Derrick Cobey   Vocals
Cody Ryan Wise   Vocals
Christian Dante White   Vocals

Technical Credits

John Kander   Composer,Lyricist,Producer,Liner Notes
David Thompson   Liner Notes,Book
David Loud   Producer,Vocal Arrangements,Music Direction
John Yap   Producer,Executive Producer
Fred Ebb   Composer,Lyricist
Susan Stroman   Choreographer,Direction
Larry Hochman   Orchestration
Glen Kelly   Arranger
Bryan Smith   Engineer

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The Scottsboro Boys 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
centaur0 More than 1 year ago
An amazing show that I had the opportunity to see during one of its 100 or so preview showings just off Times Square. Kander & Ebb's music is touching and memorable, telling the story of the original nine black Scottsboro Boys who were falsely accused of raping two white women. A tale of justice gone wrong. The minimal staging and choreography of Susan Stroman was brilliant. While this worked beautifully in a medium sized stage in NYC, it didn't carryover well to the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Still, you should see this show live if it comes to your town.