The Scottsboro Boys

Music is the shorthand of emotion.

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The Creative Team

John Kander

Music and Lyrics

Fred EBB

Music Coordinator

David Thompson

Lighting Design

Susan Stroman

Sound Design

Beowulf Boritt


Toni-Leslie James

Costume Design


About the Boys

A bunch of brilliant talents, ready to set the stage on fire and bring some jaw-dropping performances.

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Brave enough to take on the stage, brilliant enough to make your eyebrows raise and unmissable because they are talent personified.


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Musical journey of Scottsboro Boys


The story of the Scottsboro Boys is one of American shame and tragedy. It’s the story of nine African American boys that board a train to Memphis and end up falsely accused of rape during an Alabama stop. All nine boys fought the case and the original verdict was turned over by the U.S. Supreme Court, but despite recantation and appeals, all the boys died, either at the hand of the prison or due to their time there.

It wasn’t until 2002 that the story was dug up by Susan Stroman and brought to musical writers David Thompson, John Kinder, and Fred Ebb. They began writing the scenes and the music, but faced a tragedy of their own when Fred Ebb died in 2004. Ebb’s lyrics were finished by John Kinder four years later, after deciding the show must go on. After years of development, the show was finally released off-Broadway in 2010. With the rumors circulating about one questionable aspect of the show, it drew immediate media attention and acquired protesters before it even opened at the Lyceum Theatre. The controversy surrounded actors using “black face”, but had the protesters seen the show, they would have seen that it was done to call out the wrongs within the American justice system, not to in any way promote racism. Regardless of the protests, the show opened to remarkable reviews, calling the show “a masterwork” and “highly entertaining” It quickly made its way to Minneapolis and Broadway that same year, opening at Gutherie Theater in July and Lyceum Theatre in October. Though it did not win, The Scottsboro Boys was nominated for twelve Tony awards.

Dance Band

The show did a number of regional performances in 2012 across the country in places like San Diego, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, resulting in more mainstream fame and a trip across the pond to London. The Scottsboro Boys opened in London Off-West End in October of 2013, and it wasn’t but exactly one year later it was playing in West End, proper. In London, the reviews came out even better than in the states and the musical ended up being nominated for a number of awards and winning Best Musical at the 2014 London Evening Standard Awards.

Back home, even today, the musical continues to entertain and spread the tragic story across the United States. In 2017, it made its Chicago premiere at the Porchlight Music Theatre and in 2018, the musical opened in Arlington, Virginia at the Signature Theater. The musical continues to be a hit musical and a culturally relative show used to educate people and shine a light on the dark past that America has with slaves in the post-Civil War era. It remains one of the most popular shows out there today and has many plans to continue across the country and further into Europe, in hopes of educating and entertaining.

Scottsboro boys all you need to know

Scottsboro boys Mime

The sensational Scottsboro boys continued making headlines since 1931 until the recent 2013. The nine black boys, ranging from the age group 13 to 19 were all falsely accused of raping two white women who were on board the same train with the boys. While after a minor squabble the boys were arrested by the police, the rape charges coming from Ruby Bates and Victoria Price were shocking, not only to the boys but to the entire black and white community of the United States back then.

This case caused a lot of uproars even internationally, but this uproar was of no avail to the nine boys, who were crushed under the weight of these false allegations, which led to them spending the prime years of their lives rotting in the Alabama prison.

Scottsboro boys Dance

After the series of initial trials, the boys, eight of them were sentenced to death, while one of them being the youngest was sentenced to life imprisonment. After a mistrial was declared, the case came into focus again – this time questioning the validity of not only the false accusations but also the verdict. This happened in 1937.

The International Labour Defense directed all their efforts to prove the innocence of the boys through a countrywide, full-fledged campaign. The second round of trials began in Alabama, 50 miles away from Scottsboro, this time, with the one of the initial accuser, Ruby Bates coming in to withdraw her allegations and testify in favor of the boys. Despite all the evidence and more importantly this newest testimony from Ruby Bates, the all-white panel sitting on this case upheld the death sentence, making this case one of the most racially biased in the history of America.

The third time this case was taken up, now with an African American Judge on the panel, charges against four of the nine boys were dropped. The rest were charged with sentences ranging from 75 years to death. Rest of the five, either escaped prosion, jumped parole or were shot. The last surviving defendent died in 2009, which was just four years before the Alabama Board of Paroles and Pardons finally, though posthumously, issued pardons to the rest of the boys – putting an end to this long battle which was indeed a miscarriage of justice in America.

The Scottsboro case went on to become an inspiration for various works of art, dramas, plays and even Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’

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Monday- Thursday:04:00 PM-06:30 PM
Friday - 4:00 PM-8:00 PM

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