Show History



The Scottsboro Boys is based on the notorious "Scottsboro Boys" trial of the 1930s, where nine innocent African-American men were unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

Susan Stroman first met with David Thompson, John Kander and Fred Ebb in 2002 to begin research on famous American trials. The team arrived on the "Scottsboro Boys" case as "a story that needed to be told." After Ebb's untimely death in 2004, the project was put on hold. However, Kander returned to the project in 2008 with Stroman and Thompson. Kander finished essentially one-third of the score, writing the lyrics in Ebb's place.

The original concept, beyond its minstrel show format, emphasized simplicity. The modest eight-member orchestra was paired with a very stark set. Actors moved thirteen chairs and planks to create the train, jail cell, prison yard, bus and courtroom. Stroman stated "Since we're already bending the rules on a minstrel show, why not have the boys so invested in telling the story that they make the set themselves?" 


The Scottsboro Boys, with songs by the legendary writing team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, opened Off-Broadway to a sold-out run at the Vineyard Theatre on March 10, 2010, under the helm of Susan Stroman as director and choreographer. The production then opened at the Guthrie Theater on August 6, 2010, to another sold-out run before arriving at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre on October 31, 2010.

In October 2013, Susan Stroman recreated the Broadway production in London at the Young Vic. Subsequent productions have gone up in Philadelphia, at the Old Globe in San Diego and at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

Cultural Influence

  • In addition to the research shared by the creative team, many actors also researched historical archives (such as New York's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture) themselves. Colman Domingo (2011 Tony Award Nominee) added, "We'd sit there for hours, researching the minstrel form or learning about the boys' individual cases.... We know the responsibility of this piece and the integrity that must be attached to it, so we want to make sure we have as much knowledge as possible."
  • Original Broadway Cast member, Jeremy Gumbs, said, "I do believe that it should be in history books, so people my age can know a little bit, at least, about the story that really happened." David Thompson added, "It's an important story to tell – because it's a chapter of American history that's often forgotten."
  • The Scottsboro Boys marks the last collaboration between the legendary Broadway songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, who wrote nearly 20 shows together; Ebb died in 2004, while they were still working on the piece.


  • The Scottsboro Boys garnered twelve Tony nominations in 2011, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical, Best Direction and Best Choreography. It was also nominated for six Olivier Awards in 2014.
  • The original Broadway production featured John Cullum and Coleman Domingo.