By Laura Latzko
Sometimes musicals aren’t easily digestible and take some time to process on a mental and emotional level. Phoenix Theatre’s and the Black Theatre Troupe’s production of Scottsboro Boys fits that bill.
The musical is based on the true story of “the Scottsboro Boys,” nine African-American men accused of raping two white women on a train in Alabama in 1931.
The case, which spanned seven years and went to the Supreme Court level, called into question the idea of treatment of black defendants within the legal system, especially in certain parts of the country.
Local African American actors play every part in the show, including the roles of white police officers and the two women who accused the men of rape.
Nathan Andrew Riley is the standout in the show with his complex representation of Haywood, one of the men known as“the Scottsboro Boys.”
Some of the characters, especially the female roles, come off as a little too over-the-top, but they fit within the show because much of the comedy is tongue-in-cheek.
The production succeeds in its mission of making audiences think about the concepts of segregation and racism and the ways in which they relate to today’s society.
Those looking for a musical with a concise, happy ending won’t find one with The Scottsboro Boys.
The show gives a glimpse into the realities faced by African American men in the South in the 1930s, juxtaposed with vaudeville-style humor and dance numbers.
The musical is filled with daunting moments, but one scene near the end is meant to stick with audiences long after they exit the theater.
The production ultimately leaves one with a question of what justice really means and how much society has and hasn’t changed since the 1930s.
A post-show discussion follows each performance.
Before the shows on April 15 and 22, speakers from artistic, legal, educational and/or governmental backgrounds will take part in panels on “Arts Inspiring Justice” and “Community Action= Community Hope,” respectively.
Phoenix Theatre and Black Theatre Troupe’s Production of The Scottsboro Boys
Through Sunday, April 30
Phoenix Theatre, 100 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix
Tickets starting at $30
Arts Inspiring Justice Panel Discussion, 6 p.m., Saturday, April 15, Phoenix Theatre, free and open to the public.
Community Action= Community Hope Panel Discussion. 6 p.m. Saturday, April 22. Phoenix Theatre, free and open to the public.