REVIEW: THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS at Vintage Theatre
by Charlie Ray
One word: BRAVO!
To be completely honest, I was slightly apprehensive about seeing this show. As a mixed man of African decent myself, I often get uncomfortable when it comes to the topic of American race relations. Prior to seeing this production, I was aware of the story of the Scottsboro Boys – nine black teens accused of rape by two white women. Going in, I felt as though I’d have a difficult time sitting through it. The fact that this ACTUALLY happened less than 100 years ago is extremely upsetting to me, and, as someone who prefers to not feel upset all the time, I was nervous about whether or not I’d enjoy the show.
Holy wow, did I love this one.
Despite the very serious subject matter, the high energy brought forth by the cast (more on them later) made the story palatable, and I daresay, humorous at times. I specifically recall that the opening number Hey, Hey, Hey!, actually lessened my nervousness about watching this all play out. Just about all of the musical numbers were fun, meaningful and entertaining. Let’s get to my absolute favorite part of this production: the cast. Incredible vocalists? Check. Wonderful dancers? Yup. Did they bring forth their best acting chops? You betcha. Not only was it a delight watch these men bring their best to the stage, but I was incredibly honored to witness so many talented black actors on stage all at once. As a guy from Boulder, that’s never really been a thing I could see all the time. Christopher Razor’s turn as Haywood Patterson was awe-inspiring. The man cried actual tears on stage and I could feel the real, raw emotion in his words. I cried right along with you, sir! We all did, for that matter.
In addition, I’d like to give a MAJOR shout out to Colette Brown as “The Lady”. Without giving away the “big reveal”, let me just say that about a quarter of the way through I made the correct guess as to her identity. Mrs. Brown did an amazing job of adding depth to a character that was (brilliantly) purposefully given very few lines. From her performance, not only was I able to see this woman portray
the legendary “xxxx xxxxx” (see what I did there?), but she was so much more than that. She was the presence of motherly comfort to these men at a time when they needed it the most. It was extremely powerful and heartbreaking to watch.
As far as it goes with anything I didn’t love as much, some of the scene transitions chop a bit and I was confused with some of the scene endings, but it definitely wasn’t anything to really rag about. That’s all I’ve got in that department. Really though, this was an incredible watch and I’m pleased that I had the opportunity to participate.
As circumstances would have it, I attended the show with a dear (Caucasian) friend who grew up in Alabama. She had an immensely different take on the show from mine, and it gave us the opportunity to have a lengthy, intense-yet-civil conversation about race relations and what it means for us to be friends in 2020. Scottsboro Boys is 100% responsible for giving us that opportunity, and I encourage anyone looking to engage in thought-provoking, intense fun to go see this show.