[NOTE: This review was written in January 2021 as part of my 2010-2019 decade-in-review post.]
Richard and I saw *The Scottsboro Boys* on Broadway in 2010. It didn’t run long but it was genius. It was the last show written by Kander and Ebb, the team that brought us *Cabaret,* *Chicago,* and many other essential musicals. The show is a dramatization of the Scottsboro Boys case and trial of nine African American teenagers falsely accused of raping two white women in Alabama in 1931. The musical sets it up as a sort of minstrel show, which amplified the chilling aspect of the story.
The one white actor in the cast was the great John Cullum, a wonderful Broadway actor who I knew from *Northern Exposure* and *Law and Order* but had never seen onstage. What a joy to see an 80-year old actor not just playing a lead role in an important new show, and doing it so brilliantly. He was the backbone of the show.
This was the only time I saw Colman Domingo in a show, he was creepilicious. It was wonderful seeing him in a small part in *Lincoln* and in a prominent part in *Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.*
The stand-out in the cast was Joshua Henry, who I’ve since seen in *Violet,* *The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,* *Shuffle Along,* *Hamilton,* and *Carousel.* He’s an extraordinary talent, he was the moral and emotional center of the show. This was one of those moments when you see a performer and think, “Wow, this is the real deal.”
Every once in a while a show finds its perfect production and that was definitely the case with this one. Director and choreographer Susan Stroman danced that fine line between creating an entertainment and cutting to the bone with the drama. The staging was exceptionally minimal (just a semicircle of folding chairs) but so powerfully done, a real masterpiece of theatre.
Here's a performance for the Tonys that year: