Don’t miss the train heading to The Scottsboro Boys at the Old Globe

By Diana Saenger
A story about boys sentenced to die for something they never did is compelling enough, but mixing it up minstrel-style in the way “The Scottsboro Boys” is told, is a tour de force not to be missed.
An incredible group of male actors pay homage to John Kander and Fred Ebb’s musical talents as they sing and dance up a storm in the Old Globe’s West Coast premiere of “The Scottsboro Boys.”

Haywood Patterson (Clifton Duncan) energizes his buddies about to take a train trip that alters their lives in 'The Scottsboro Boys' at The Old Globe Theatre. Photo Henry DiRocco.

The brilliant story, from a book by David Thompson, swings from a minstrel parody to a heartfelt true story of the tragedy that happened to nine African-American boys in 1931.
When the song “Minstrel March” begins, it’s an intro into a shocking tale told through humor and historical revelation. Mr. Tambo (JC Montgomery) and Mr. Bones (Jared Joseph) dressed in 1930’s pointy collars, coattails and hats, look like ringmasters in a circus — just what the Scottsboro boys’ trials become. Tambo and Bones are part of a trio that includes the jolly barker, The Interlocutor, (Ron Holgate) – a master of ceremonies in a minstrel troupe.

The stage is soon full of a lively ensemble springing up and down on a board simulating the train that nine youths set out on to find jobs. Instead, they are charged with the rape of two white girls on the train. Only Kander and Ebb could create tunes, such as “Electric Chair” and “Chair Gang,” that are both entertaining and gut wrenching, as they take the audience through the many trials the boys endured.

Mr. Bones (Jared Joseph), The Interlocutor (Ron Holgate) and Mr. Tambo (JC Montgomery) razzle-dazzle.

The direction and choreography by five-time Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman is superb. Every minute on stage there’s something exciting happening, and the minimal scenic design by Beowulf Boritt works to move the story forward without hesitation.

Each actor excels in song and amazing dance numbers. Clifton Duncan as Haywood Patterson, one of the boys who went through trial after trial — even after one of the girls admits she lied about the rape — is still unable to get a not-guilty verdict. Duncan’s powerful voice drives home his horror throughout the show.
Clifton Oliver as Victoria Price and James T. Lane as Ruby Bates, are hilarious as the white girls who falsely accuse the boys to cover up their own misdeeds.

There’s a lot of talent in young actor Nile Bullock, who plays the youngest Scottsboro boy, Eugene Williams. The scene where he wallows on the floor in a dream sequence that takes place in a hypothetical death-row brings every word of the song “Electric Chair” to a bone-chilling reality.

If you go
What: ‘The Scottsboro Boys’
When: Matinees, evenings through June10
Where: 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park
Tickets: From $39
Box Office: (619) 234-5623
Related event: 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 4 Carrol Waymon and John Warren lead a discussion of the civil rights movement in San Diego.

Related posts:

  1. Tah Dah! Playhouse finalizes its 2012 Season
  2. Playwrights young and old to show their work at New Play Festival
  3. Young local actors thrilled to be part of Old Globe’s Grinch 2011
  4. Playhouse hosts two events to promote new musical Sleeping Beauty Wakes
  5. Comedians promise a groovy show Thursday night in La Jolla

Short URL:

Posted by Staff on May 11, 2012. Filed under A & E, Theater. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

La Jolla Community Calendar


Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Torrey Pines High School football starts Aug. 29 August 28, 2014
    The Torrey Pines varsity football team scrimmaged against San Marcos on Friday, Aug. 22. Their first game is at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29. […]
  • Del Mar doctor faces 20 years for selling prescriptions to addicts August 28, 2014
    A Del Mar osteopath who sold painkiller prescriptions to addicts and drug dealers pleaded guilty in federal court Aug. 26 to conspiracy to unlawfully dispense and distribute oxycodone. William Joseph Watson faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced Dec. 8, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Sheppard. The defendant — who had been indicted on […]
  • Teacher thrilled to be back in Carmel Valley as new Canyon Crest Academy Envision Theatre Coordinator August 28, 2014
    Jeannine Marquie landed her dream teaching job when she began working at Canyon Crest Academy’s Envision in 2007. But when schools were hit by the recession and her position went from full time to part time, the actress-turned-teacher had to relocate to Orange County. Now starting her 18th year as a teacher, Marquie is back in Carmel Valley as the new theate […]