It’s Creepy Time Down South

It’s Creepy Time Down South

Now making its Bay Area debut at American Conservatory Theater, The Scottsboro Boys is a curious concoction that probably shouldn’t work as well as it does. The final collaboration between composer John Kander and the late lyricist Fred Ebb, the team that brought us Cabaret and Chicago, the 2010 musical takes a landmark case in the fight for the right of African-Americans to get a fair trial in the segregated South and tells it in the style of a minstrel show, the now-notorious blackface variety acts that remained popular into the first couple of decades of the 20th century (and survived in some areas as late as the 1960s). Minstrel stock characters Mr. Bones, Mr. Tambo, and the Interlocutor play many of the roles around the nine unjustly incarcerated men, and the performance style is a curious mélange of broad proto-vaudeville comedy with intentionally cringeworthy racial jokes, passionate semi-naturalism from the prisoners, and the usual conventions of Broadway musicals in which we accept that people break into song and dance at the slightest provocation.

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Borscht League Creature Feature

Borscht League Creature Feature

THEATER REVIEW: SAN FRANCISCO

Show #72: Young Frankenstein, SHN, June 30.

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