Our list of Tony® Award nominated Best Musicals continues with The Scottsboro Boys.
Set in the 1930s, The Scottsboro Boys is based on the true story of a court case where nine African American men were unjustly accused of attacking two white women on a train in Alabama. The young men, all under the age of 22, were convicted by a white jury and spent years in jail while the case was tried and retried.
Not all dramatic stories are portrayed dramatically onstage. The Tony nominated score by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb, the musical men also behind the courtroom favorite Chicago, brought a little “Razzle Dazzle” to this unfortunate courtroom case by telling the story through a minstrel show. Minstrel shows emerged in the 1830s as a popular form of entertainment and a precursor to vaudeville, consisting of skits, songs and one-act plays often with crude stereotypes and degrading caricatures of African American slaves. The musical’s minstrel form was offensive to some, and Kander responded in The New York Times that, “The minstrel show elements are, I like to think, part of the entertainment, but in a way that makes you think about how we tell stories, tell our history as Americans.”
The show’s brief run on Broadway from October 31-December 12, 2010 left a lasting impression. It received 12 Tony Award nominations this spring, including Best Musical, Best Original Score and several best actor/actress nominations.If you loved the merry murderesses of Chicago like I did, maybe you’ll back The Scottsboro Boys as Best Musical.