Reviewer: Howard Steven Frydman aka “The Howard”
Theater: Playhouse On Park
Production: The Scottsboro Boys
Book: David Thompson
Music & Lyrics: John Kander and Fred Ebb
Director: Sean Harris
The Howard’s Exhale – “dynamic – powerful – electrifying theater – a tale to be told – often.
Playhouse on Park is currently offering a most powerful production of the musical “The Scottsboro Boys” that is “not to be missed” theater. This important historic account of 9 young black men who fought for justice in an unjust world is compelling and thought provoking. POP has brought forth an “on the edge-of your seat” production that will have you crying one minute, and shouting for Justice the next. Directed by Sean Harris, choreography by Darlene Zoller and STARRING a most “excellent” multitalented cast of 13 actors – this is “must see theater” at its BEST.
Folks, as mentioned this is a musical, and a darn good one – with up beat songs and dance that lifts your spirits one moment and then shaking your head in disgust the next. Throughout the musical’s two hour runtime I take note of the reactions of fellow attendees- a gentleman with head in hand in rapt attention, a young woman laying her head on the shoulders of her companion, another wiping away a tear – only a truly thought provoking and provocative live theatrical event can stir such raw and real emotions dealing with racism and injustice.
“The Scottsboro Boys”, had its Broadway premiere at the Lyceum Theater, and was nominated for twelve Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Direction, Best Choreography, and Best Performance by a Leading Actor. The musical, which has Book by David Thompson, and music and lyrics by the famed duo of John Kander and Fred Ebb, who also brought us the stage musicals, “Chicago” and “Cabaret”, bravely details this infamous 1930’s court case that set in motion the American Civil Rights Movement.
Initially brought forth in the guise of a high-energy dance and song “minstrel” show, we are introduced to Mr. Interlocutor (Dennis Holland), Mr. Bones (Ivory McKay), Mr. Tambo (Torrey Linder), and The Lady (Renee J. Sutherland), and so sadly begins the true account and aftermath of nine youths who came seeking a modest living but only found sorrow. The place: the Deep South- Alabama, 1931. Meet the “Scottsboro Boys” – teenagers – who had been hitching a ride on a train until they are all falsely accused of raping two white women. Hastily put on trial with no true evidence or due process – all are sentenced to death. The musical provides us a window to a cruel criminal justice system as it presents this stirring true account of 9 black men, a world on edge, and those seeking “a right to a fair trial”, and an end to racism forever.
This indeed is compelling theater – a courageous tale that we are so honored that Playhouse on Park is presenting. We rightly state ALL our nine “Scottsboro Men” are true stars with broadway worthy singing, dancing, acting – GENTLEMEN- you are wonderful and I along with a most appreciative audience give you high praise – and say bravo to – Troy Valjean Rucker, Justin Sturgis, Jerry Hamilton, Trishawn Paul, Cedric Ekra, Alex Robertson, Jaylan Evans, Grant Reynolds, and Cedric Green.
Lastly, I need to take note of two outstanding “star making aspects” of this musical production, firstly – hands down it would be the choreography by Darlene Zoller. Miss Zoller, an adjunct professor at the Hartt School of Music and is co-founder of POP – I truly admired your energetic creative choreography- great great job!! Lastly, a “Howard Noticed You Award” goes to the talented Mr. Alex Emmanuel Robertson for your Dynamic, Lively and Awe-inspiring tap dancing – excellent!! We first met Mr. Robertson in a production by playwright Emma Krishnaswami, “The Rhythm of U.S.” several years ago, we so look forward to seeing Mr. Robertson performances in upcoming productions. Enjoy!
Tickets for the Playhouse on Park’s production of “The Scottsboro Boys” are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the POP box office at 860-523-5900 x10 or visit www.playhouseonpark.org. Playhouse on Park is located at 244 Park Road, West Hartford, CT 06119.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com