What’s it all about?
The final musical from legendary duo Kander and Ebb, The Scottsboro Boys tells the story of nine black men accused of rape in 1930s Alabama and the discrimination they face at the hands of the criminal justice system.
Not the jolliest theme for a musical you may think. You’d be right but, framed as a minstrel show, the production is adorned with energy, spirit and an uncomfortable wit that, as well as allowing the audience a titter or too, makes its true story all the more dark and distressing.
Who’s in it?
Colman Domingo proves himself worthy of his Olivier Award nomination earlier this year, recreating his hilarious performance as Mr Bones. He is accompanied by fellow returning cast member Forrest McClendon as his on-stage sidekick Mr Tambo. Together their characters, which go against the conventions of a typical minstrel show and instead sees them take on many of the ‘white’ roles, encompass everything that was wrong with the ludicrously biased trials and years of imprisonment endured by this innocent group of young men.
Brandon Victor Dixon is magnificent as the resolute Haywood Patterson, a man unwilling to give up on the truth in return for his freedom, and Julian Glover exudes a chilling cheerfulness as ‘The Boss’ who presides over the minstrel show.
What should I look out for?
Fitting moments when the tube can be heard rattling under the Garrick Theatre, most notably when Haywood escapes and doesn’t quite manage to catch the train home before he’s caught.
Susan Stroman’s striking choreography merging tap-dancing and electrocution; it is flawless in the hands of this talented cast.
In a nutshell?
The Scottsboro Boys is back and winning over West End audiences with its superb yet uncomfortable mix of humour, melancholy and dazzling performances.
What’s being said on Twitter?
@tchesshyre Scottsboro Boys at Garrick Theatre last night…. Vibrant, harrowing and well performed, with powerful & moving ending.
@SeanMcEnaney @ScottsboroLDN Blown away by the talent on- and off-stage at The Scottsboro Boys. One of the greatest American musicals EVER.
@millie_ob @ScottsboroLDN was absolutely brilliant last night. Fabulous dancing, beautiful singing, electric energy and a top notch cast! Go see it!!
Will I like it?
This isn’t the sort of musical that will make you rush to buy the soundtrack or hum its tunes gleefully all the way home. Not because of the quality of songs – there are some corkers, particularly Go Back Home – but because it doesn’t seem appropriate to enjoy the music that has accompanied this terrible true story. Instead it’s the sort of musical that leaves you emotionally drained and only just able to get out of your seat to join the raucous standing ovation taking place throughout the rest of the auditorium.
The Scottsboro Boys is playing at the Garrick Theatre until 21 February. You can book tickets through us.