THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS, Chronicling a 1930s event that was a precursor to the Civil Rights Movement

Playhouse on the Square Presents the Regional Premiere Musical, The Scottsboro Boys, that Chronicles Precursor to The Civil Rights Movement

A vaudeville-style variety show is the thrilling final collaboration of Kander and Ebb. The Scottsboro Boys is a retelling of the landmark trial of 9 falsely accused Black teenagers. This case would eventually give rise to the Civil Rights Movement. 

Audiences should note the production features the art form of minstrelsy in historical context and in commentary of social injustices during the period. Minstrel is the now taboo American art form of highly emphasized stereotypical representation of black people, traditionally performed by white and Black entertainers in “blackface.”  Playhouse on the Square’s production of The Scottsboro Boys will not perform in blackface.

Director, Jared Thomas Johnson (Pass Over), returns to the Playhouse on the Square stage as showrunner for The Scottsboro Boys. Johnson put together a diverse creative team, including Tammy Holt (Indecent) as Music Director and Emma Crystal (The Gospel at Colonus, Sophisticated Ladies) as Choreographer, to honor the lives of these black voices so often associated with black trauma. In a current Playhouse on the Square YouTube interview, Johnson addressed his production’s approach to handling the subject matter of the show. “What I am excited to play is not the trauma from that time, but the humanity, hope, and spirit that we get to stand on because of what [the Scottsboro Boys] were able to do.”

The Scottsboro Boys were nine Black teenagers falsely accused of raping two white women aboard a train near Scottsboro, Alabama, in 1931. The trials and repeated retrials of the Scottsboro Boys sparked an international uproar and produced two landmark U.S. Supreme Court verdicts, even as the defendants were forced to spend years battling the courts and enduring the harsh conditions of the Alabama prison system.

Playhouse on the Square opens the second half of their momentous Season 54 with the controversial musical headlined by Memphis Theatre favorites, Justin Raynard Hicks (Ain’t Misbehavin) as Haywood Patterson, Jimbo Lattimore (Something Rotten) as Interlocutor, and Karl Robinson (Madagascar: A Musical AdventureJunie B. Jones the Musical) as Roy Wright. Playhouse on the Square Resident Company Member Marc Gill (Byhalia, Pass Over) and actor Cleavon Meabon, IV (Pass OverSmokey Joe’s Café) reunite after their riveting performance in The Circuit Playhouse season opener Pass Over, also directed by Jared Thomas Johnson.

Playhouse on the Square, in partnership with Friends of Facing History and Ourselves, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Community Trust, Playhouse on the Square Season Sponsor Dorothy O. Kirsch, and Super Sponsor Dr. Thomas Ratliff, present one of Kander and Ebb’s final collaborations

Performances will run Thursday-Saturday with an 8:00 pm curtain and with a 2:00 pm curtain on Sunday.  For tickets, call the Box Office at (901) 726-4656 or visit the website  Follow with social media using #Scottsboro901. Group rates are available.

Special ticket pricing for opening weekend is $30.  The Pay What You Can performance is Thursday, January 26th.  Enjoy a special preview live performance broadcasting on WKNO-FM’s Live Lunch Friday, January 20th at 12:00 PM.

For questions and booking, please contact Playhouse on the Square Director of Community Relations, Marcus Cox (901) 937-6496.


Willie Roberson: Marc Gill*

Ozie Powell: Thedrick Griffin

Andy Wright: Jari Head

Haywood Patterson: Justin Raynard Hicks

Charlie Weems/Haywood Swing: Marvin Holt

Clarence Norris: Grant Kee

A Lady: Michelle Mitchell

Interlocutor: Jimbo Lattimore

Olen Montgomery: Johnathan Lee

Mr. Bones: Cleavon Meabon IV 

Roy Wright: Karl Robinson

Eugene Williams: Brandon Sewell

Mr. Tambo: CJ Thomas

Swing (u/s Mr. Bones, Charlie, Ozie, Andy): Brandon Dickerson
Swing (u/s Willie, Roy, Clarence): John Michael Dukes**


Director: Jared Thomas Johnson

Music Director: Tammy Holt

Choreographer: Emma Crystal

Stage Manager: Tessa Verner

Costume Designer: Lindsay Schmeling

Sound Designer: Joshua Crawford

Lighting Designer: Matt Webb

Scenic Designer: Tim McMath

Production Manager/Technical Director: Phillip Hughen

* Resident Company Member ; **Associate Company Member 

For tickets and more information, visit Playhouse on the Square.

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