Offensive Scottsboro Boys Should Fail At TONY

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The Scottsboro Boys “shuck and jive” in the minstrel fashion.


One big story this theater season was the Tony Committee's awarding several nominations for theater excellence to the director and team behind the short-lived musical “The Scottsboro Boys.”

The offensive format of minstrel comedy and blackface made this production a shocking horrific reality which sparked a protest from African Americans and political groups in New York. Yet, this reprehensible musical now stands to enjoy a national spotlight during the telecast of the Tony Awards this Sunday, June 12th which traditionally features a musical number from each of the nominated shows.

Competition is tough this week, thankfully, so “Scottsboro Boys” has little hope of winning any honors.  “Scottsboro” does not stand a chance against “Sister Act,” also nominated for musical.

Susan Stroman has a nomination for direction of “Scottsboro” and cannot expect to win for staging a racially offensive musical that makes light of the young Black men, the victims of a great injustice in the early 1930s. In this category she does not equal her rivals that include Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker for “The Book of Mormon” and Rob Ashford for “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

A favorite for acting honors are Pattina Miller in the lead role and Victoria Clark as Mother Superior both in “Sister Act.” This outstanding musical also enjoys nominations for best score --music and lyrics-- created by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater.

In this category it goes up against “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” “The Book of Mormon,” and “The Scottsboro Boys.” Due to the ill-advised, racially-insulting and derisive nature of the lyrics of the songs from “The Scottsboro Boys,” Stroman’s show does not have any chance to win this honor.

The best book of a musical nominations go to “Sister Act,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson,” and finally “The Scottsboro Boys.” In light of the appalling treatment of this real life injustice --places the "The Scottsboro Boys" in last place for consideration.

My prediction is that the Tony Awards for best musical goes to “Sister Act.” Pattina Miller also wins for best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical.

To add more insult to injury the Antoinette Perry Awards committee also nominated “The Scottsboro Boys” for best choreography and orchestrations.  Three actors, Joshua Henry, formerly of “The Wiz” and “In the Heights,” Colman Domingo, and Forest McClendon enjoy nominations for best actors in a musical.

Joshua Henry stars as the only Scottsboro boy who stands up for justice and refuses to “shuck and jive” in the minstrel fashion.
Where’s the outrage? Where’s the NAACP? Where’s the National Urban League? Where’s CEMOTAP?

Should “The Scottsboro Boys” enjoy a national broadcast Sunday night? What do you think?  Call your local NAACP branch if you're outraged--call your local congressional representative.

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