Laughing to keep from crying in “The Scottsboro Boys”
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Kinder and Ebb’s use of satire is brilliant in “The Scottsboro Boys” because it doesn’t sanitized difficult issues in society we rather avert our eyes from. But rather “there’s a wonderful tension in the theater because audiences are not really sure how they’re supposed to react to the number,” Thompson stated.
This sort of tension is also seen in their musical production of “Chicago,” a vaudevillian- style performance set in during the Jazz Age satirizing crime and corruption, and “Cabaret” which satirizes anti-Semitism in Weimar-era Germany.
I held my breath through much of “The Scottsboro Boys” because I was told about those teenagers—Olen Montgomery, Clarence Norris, Ozie Powell, Willie Robertson, Charlie Weems, Eugene Williams, Andy Wright, and Leroy “Roy” Wright—while growing up in segregated Brooklyn in hushed tones of fear and sadness. But at the end of the performance I got up from my seat and applauded- the performers, Kinder and Ebb, and nine boys whose story was finally told with dignity and justice.
Who would think a minstrel show would do it.