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15 items from 2010

'The Scottsboro Boys': Minstrel show returns to Broadway, but not for long

8 December 2010 7:12 PM, PST | Pop2it | See recent Pop2it news »

Just because you can do something, should you?

That's the question behind "The Scottsboro Boys."

Brilliant performances and the magic of Broadway royalty -- John Kander and the late Fred Ebb ("Cabaret," "Chicago," "Curtains") for music and lyrics, and director and choreographer Susan Stroman ("The Producers") -- ensure that every aspect of this show is perfect.

Should the story be told? Absolutely. This is a true and hideous account of racism.

Should it be told as a minstrel show?

Now that's where the great divide sets in. Some people continue to find minstrel shows so offensive the play was picketed.

Though no one could argue how magnificent the performers are, it's not saving the show. It closes Sunday, Dec. 12.

How the story is told is whether a Broadway show lives or dies, but the story itself must be told and repeatedly until something like this can never happen.

In 1931, nine »


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Lee Daniels Wants To Make A Film Based On “Scottsboro Boys” Musical

3 December 2010 9:45 AM, PST | ShadowAndAct | See recent ShadowAndAct news »

The controversial Broadway musical, The Scottsboro Boys, will be closing on December 12, a lot earlier than expected, after running for just over a month, which isn’t very long at all.

For a number of reasons (most notably concerns amongst audiences over the use of a racially-charged device – minstrelsy – to tell the racially-charged story of 9 black teen boys falsely accused of raping 2 white women, in 1931 Alabama) ticket sales haven’t been impressive enough to keep the theater lights on, despite strong support from some of black Hollywood’s elite, like Denzel Washington, Whoopi Goldberg and Lee Daniels.

But all may not be lost for you fans of the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical production, as Lee Daniels, who’s reportedly seen the show “several times,” and obviously loves it, wants to make a feature film based on the work.

Deadline says that the Oscar-nominated Daniels is in “early conversations” to develop it, »

- Tambay

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On Broadway: Jennifer Jason Leigh in 'House Of Blue Leaves,' Lee Daniels Ponders 'Scottsboro Boys'

3 December 2010 8:46 AM, PST | Deadline | See recent Deadline news »

Jennifer Jason Leigh has been set to join Ben Stiller and Edie Falco in the Broadway revival of The House Of Blue Leaves, the John Guare play that will be directed by David Cromer. Scott Rudin is producing, with previews to begin April 4 and opening night is April 25 at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway. Leigh, who made her Broadway debut in Cabaret and also starred in Proof, will play Bunny Flingus the mistress of Artie Shaughnessy (Stiller). Cromer is coming off Our Town... While The Scottsboro Boys ends its Broadway run on December 12 at the Lyceum Theatre, there are flickers of hope that the last collaboration between songwriting legends John Kander and Fred Ebb will have a feature future. I'm told that Oscar-nominated Precious director Lee Daniels has seen the show several times and is in early conversations to develop it. Now, Daniels is in hot demand, and he »


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'The Scottsboro Boys' shuttering Dec. 12

1 December 2010 4:14 PM, PST | Gold Derby | See recent Gold Derby news »

"The Scottsboro Boys," which revisits the notorious civil rights incident of the 1930s, is closing after just a seven-week Broadway run on Dec. 12. The ambitious new musical divided critics over its use of the minstrel format as a means of telling the compelling story of nine young African-American men accused of rape by two white woman in Alabama in 1931.  This musical marked the final show from composer John Kander and the late lyricist Fred Ebb ("Cabaret," "Chicago"). Tony champ Susan Stroman ("The Producers") shephered the show in a run last season at the non-profit Vineyard Theater and an out-of-town tryout earlier this year at the Guthrie in Minneapolis. In a statement producers Barry and Fran Weissler and Jacki Barlia Florin said: “We’ve never believed more strongly and passionately in a show as we did with ‘The Scottsboro Boys.’ It’s a show we felt we had to produce and we’re proud and g. »

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'Scottsboro Boys' to Close Dec. 12

30 November 2010 9:06 AM, PST | | See recent Backstage news »

"The Scottsboro Boys" will play its final performance at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre on Dec. 12, ending a run that will total 29 previews and 49 regular performances. Based on the true story of a group of African-American men falsely accused of rape in the 1930s, the musical spawned controversy over its format. Earlier this month, the Freedom Party organized a protest against the production, deeming its use of minstrelsy and blackface racist. Director Susan Stroman told The New York Times that the show is meant to expose the evils of minstrel performances, not glorify them. "The Scottsboro Boys" is the final collaboration between Broadway songwriters John Kander and the late Fred Ebb and features a book by David Thompson. It won the 2009-10 Outer Critics Circle Award for outstanding new Off-Broadway musical as well as a Drama Desk Award for outstanding lyrics. "We've never believed more strongly and passionately in a show as »

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Joseph Stein obituary

26 October 2010 10:43 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Broadway musical theatre writer who wrote the libretto for Fiddler on the Roof and the screenplay for the 1971 film

Joseph Stein, who has died aged 98, was the last of the great Broadway musical theatre writers coming out of New York revue and television comedy after the second world war. Most famously, he wrote the book, or libretto, for Fiddler on the Roof (1964) and Zorba (1968). "There are no limitations to the subject for a musical," Stein once said, "just as there are no limitations to the subject for a play or a novel. The only limitation that I can see is that it has to have an honesty about the relationship of people to each other."

He cast his net wide, shaping not only the Ukrainian shtetl stories of Sholom Aleichem into the tale of Tevye the milkman and his five daughters in Fiddler on the Roof, but also drawing, perhaps surprisingly, »

- Michael Coveney

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Broadway Fattens Up Fall with 'Pee-wee', Kander & Ebb's 'Scottsboro Boys'

20 May 2010 12:21 PM, PDT | Deadline | See recent Deadline news »

Two shows added to Broadway for the fall. As expected, Paul Reubens' The Pee-wee Herman Show will be transplanted from its Los Angeles run for a six week holiday run at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, with opening night set for November 11. The Scottsboro Boys, the final musical from John Kander and Fred Ebb, is set to move to Broadway's Lyceum Theatre on October 31 after its sold-out off-Broadway run. The musical, with book by David Thompson and Contact's Susan Stroman directing and choreographing, seemed a shoo-in to move after it won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical and got [...] »


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Lucille Lortel Awards honor best of off-Broadway

3 May 2010 9:31 AM, PDT | Gold Derby | See recent Gold Derby news »

"When the Rain Stops Falling," a time-shifting tale of four generations by the Australian playwright Andrew Bovell, won five of its six Lucille Lortel bids -- director (David Cromer), featured actress (Mary Beth Hurt), set, lighting and sound design -- losing only the best play race to the late Horton Foote's epic "The Orphans' Home Cycle." The Signature Theatre production of Foote's three-part, nine-hour ode to his small Texas town also won with the New York Drama Critics Circle on Friday. A Broadway transfer is being bandied about and should this happen, Foote could well win the Tony Award that eluded him in his lifetime. Composing team John Kander and the late Fred Ebb won »

- tomoneil

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'Ragtime,' 'Scottsboro' Lead Drama Desk Noms

3 May 2010 9:17 AM, PDT | | See recent Backstage news »

"Ragtime" and "The Scottsboro Boys" came up big as the nominees for the 55th annual Drama Desk Awards were announced today. The short-lived Broadway revival of the Terrence McNally musical and the new Off-Broadway tuner each received nine nominations, more than any other production.The nominees were announced by actors Brian Stokes Mitchell and Cady Huffman at the Friars Club in New York. It was also announced that Drama Desk members have voted this year to present special ensemble awards to the casts of "Circle Mirror Transformation" and "The Temperamentals." The awards will be presented May 23 in a ceremony hosted by Patti LuPone at the Laguardia Concert Hall at Lincoln Center.The complete list of nominees is below.Outstanding play:Alan Ayckbourn, "My Wonderful Day"Annie Baker, "Circle Mirror Transformation"Lucinda Coxon, "Happy Now?"John Logan, "Red"Geoffrey Nauffts, "Next Fall"Bruce Norris, "Clybourne Park"Outstanding musical:"American Idiot""Everyday »

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'Orphans',' 'Scottsboro' Win at Lortels

3 May 2010 7:02 AM, PDT | | See recent Backstage news »

"The Orphans' Home Cycle," by Horton Foote, won the Lucille Lortel Award for best Off-Broadway play Sunday night. The awards are administered by the Off-Broadway League, and the winners were announced at a ceremony hosted by Bryan Batt and Bebe Neuwirth at Terminal 5 in New York."The Scottsboro Boys," with book by David Thompson and music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, took home the award for best musical. Lincoln Center Theater's production of Andrew Bovell's "When the Rain Stops Falling" picked up five trophies, the most of the evening. The complete list of winners is below.Outstanding play: "The Orphans' Home Cycle." Produced by Signature Theatre Company and Hartford Stage. Written by Horton Foote.Outstanding musical: "The Scottsboro Boys." Produced by Vineyard Theatre. Book by David Thompson. Lyrics and music by John Kander and Fred Ebb.Outstanding solo show: "A Boy and His Soul." Produced by Vineyard Theatre. »

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'Chicago' Creatives Sue Miramax Over Profits

28 April 2010 6:27 PM, PDT | The Wrap | See recent The Wrap news »

By the Hollywood Reporter

The creatives behind the original Broadway musical "Chicago" are accusing Miramax of some accounting theatrics in connection with the hit 2002 film.

Nicole Fosse, heir to director/choreographer/co-writer Bob Fosse, along with composer John Kander and the estate of late lyricist Fred Ebb, on Wednesday sued Miramax and Walt Disney Pictures, claiming they've been shortchanged by more than $12 million from "the old razzle-dazzle" approach to accounting for profits from the Best Picture winner.

Read more in the Hollywood Reporter. »

- Lisa Horowitz

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'Chicago' creative team sues Miramax for profits

28 April 2010 5:00 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The creatives behind the original Broadway musical "Chicago" are accusing Miramax of some accounting theatrics in connection with the hit 2002 film.

Nicole Fosse, heir to director/choreographer/co-writer Bob Fosse, along with composer John Kander and the estate of late lyricist Fred Ebb, today sued Miramax and Walt Disney Pictures., claiming they've been shortchanged by more than $12 million from "the old razzle dazzle" approach to accounting for profits from the best picture Oscar winner. »

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Minority Views

31 March 2010 11:04 AM, PDT | | See recent Backstage news »

Maintaining truthfulness and avoiding stereotypes are the major challenges when playing racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities.Consider the daunting task that Tamer Aziz faces in tackling a character who is gay, Iranian, and Muslim in Jay Paul Deratany's fact-based play "Haram Iran" (now at the Celebration Theatre in Hollywood). Or the issues that black actors deal with in enacting a brutal racist episode within the context of a minstrel show in John Kander and Fred Ebb's musical "The Scottsboro Boys" (currently at New York's Vineyard Theatre). Justin Huen also has his work cut out for him playing Oedipus in Luis Alfaro's play "Oedipus el Rey," a retelling of Sophocles' tragedy set in a Los Angeles barrio (playing the Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena, Calif.). Jennifer Lim grapples with a fully assimilated and not very sensitive Asian American in Lauren Yee's satire "Ching Chong Chinaman" (now at New York's »

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Drama Club Episode 6: :"The Scottsboro Boys" Guest Starring Kristin Chenoweth

25 March 2010 12:36 PM, PDT | The Backlot | See recent The Backlot news »

This week, Logo Drama Club scored a ticket to the 2010 Vineyard Theatre Gala honoring John Kander and the works of Kander and Ebb, and they got all the info on the new Kander and Ebb musical, The Scottsboro Boys.

Will Pulos & Co. interviewed gay fave Kristin Chenoweth as well as Susan Stroman, Debra Monk, John Kander, and The Big Gay Sketch Show’s Colman Domingo.

Check it out after the break!


- snicks

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Heavy Minstrel Blues

23 March 2010 11:24 PM, PDT | | See recent CultureCatch news »

The true saga of the Scottsboro Boys has been told in books and on television. It doesn’t seem like an obvious candidate for a story that would be made into a musical. In 1931, nine young African Americans, aged nineteen and younger, were on a train to Memphis when they were arrested and falsely accused of raping two white girls. They were jailed in Scottsboro, Alabama, where they were convicted in a mob atmosphere by an entirely white jury. Protests ensued outside of Alabama, and there were re-trials and even hearings before the Supreme Court in this story about one of the uglier and more unfortunate situations in U.S. racial history.

The great songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, who successfully musicalized the rise of Nazi Germany in Cabaret and the story of the “merry murderesses” in Chicago, came up with a conceit, as they did in those two earlier musicals, »

- James Miller

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