A church warden accused of plotting the murders of two pensioners...
Win tickets to The Scottsboro Boys
The final collaboration between legendary composing duo John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago), The Scottsboro Boys tells the story of a group of nine black teenagers, brought together by fate in a case that sparked the American Civil Rights Movement and led to two pivotal Supreme Court rulings.
In true Kander and Ebb style, where the masters of the musical take difficult subjects and mold them into extraordinary, exhilarating entertainment, The Scottsboro Boys is breathtaking theatre.
Experience this thrilling and bold new musical, with an outstanding ensemble, written by David Thompson and directed by 5 time Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman (The Producers).
Win a pair of tickets!
Click here to enter our competition and be in with a chance of winning one of two pairs of tickets we're giving away to see The Scottsboro Boys in London. As well as the tickets, you will also be the proud winner of The Scottsboro Boys soundtrack on CD.
Book now online or call 0844 482 9673
The Scottsboro story
On March 25th, 1931, nine black youth were ‘hoboing’ their way across the Southern Railway Line in Alabama, headed for Memphis. When a fight broke out in the crowded boxcar between some of the boys and a group of white boys, the whites were thrown off the train. News travelled to the next station and when the train was stopped, nine of the black boys were rounded up for fighting. Not wanting to get in trouble themselves for riding the train for free, the two white women accused the boys of rape.
A series of hastily arranged trials were conducted before an all-white jury while a feverish growing mob waited outside intent on lynching. Despite no evidence, despite no competent lawyers for the boys, the nine were swiftly found guilty and sentenced to death (all but the youngest, 12 year old Roy Wright). News of their plight and verdict spread swiftly across America. The American Communists, who were present at their trials, championed their cause and lit a fire. Demonstrations followed in New York, The NAACP also became involved in the fight for justice. A stay of execution from the Alabama Supreme Court was secured, saving the boys from death just days before their sentence was due to be enforced.
Months later, January 5th 1932, while the boys were still awaiting their fate on death row, Ruby Bates, one of the women who accused the boys, admitted that she was encouraged to lie in her statement by the police. Over the next five years, the ongoing battle to clear the boys’ names, amidst retrials, Supreme Court rulings and nationwide demonstrations polarized a fiercely divided country and became recognized for generations as one of the most tragic miscarriages of justice in legal history.
In April, 2013, 82 years after The Scottsboro Boys were accused, the Alabama Legislature unanimously passed The Scottsboro Boys Act, exonerating the boys. This was largely due to the efforts of Shelia Washington, founder of the Scottsboro Boys Museum who has dedicated her life to bringing justice to the boys. In November, the last three boys were officially pardoned. The attention brought to Scottsboro, Alabama, and the injustices suffered through The Scottsboro Boys musical has helped change history.
Listen to Premier Gospel's interview
Premier Gospel's own Lady T dedicated part of her show to The Scottsboro Boys - hear what she had to say on the spectacular production, plus learn more about the story behind the show from cast members Dawn and James.
And hear too what members of the audience thought of the show in these short vox pop interviews Tolu held:
The cast and crew have made their way from The Young Vic to the Garrick Theatre for an extended run of their production of The Scottsboro Boys.
As the show starts the cast come to the stage from the back of the theatre, running through the aisles, smiling, laughing, dancing. This immediately brings the audience into the story; it's more than just watching the motion on stage.
Set in 1931, nine boys ride the railway in Alabama. A fight breaks out, the train stops in Scottsboro where the boys are accused of gang raping two white women. This may be an all-singing, all-dancing production but it doesn't shy away from tackling the racial issues of the time head on.
The Scottsboro Boys tells the true story of how the nine were sentenced to death and of the court cases to prove their innocence. It also cleverly shows how what the nine went through helped change the face of America and the world forever, through the Civil Rights movement.
However serious the issues, there is an incredible amount of one-liners throughout the performance. There is only one female actor on stage throughout. The two ladies, the accusers, are fantastically portrayed by James T Lane and Dex Lee. As the story progresses, everything is held together by Mr Tambo (Forrest McClendon) and Mr Bones, played by Olivier Award-nominated Colman Domingo. Dressed in over-the-top circus/clown attire the pair provide the humour and add commentary to the proceedings.
The set design is minimal but very effective. A mountain of chairs are transformed into a train, a jail cell, a court room and solitary confinement. This gives the dialogue, music and dancing the time - and space - to shine. The cast of the show need to be highly commended, the work rate even in the first ten minutes is phenomonal, they just don't stop singing, dancing, moving. Despite the sweat running down their faces, these guys have to be the fittest in London's West End.
This is the last musical to be written by Kander and Ebb and it boasts some fantastic music moments but it's not an easy watch. At times it is very frustrating. But that's nothing to do with the direction, the staging or the acting; it's to do with how we have treated each other on this planet. As a white member of the audience, you can't help but feel guilty and ashamed at times. Saying that, this is a definite must-see. Educational and entertaining.
By Vanessa Monaghan