Casting

Casting

Cast Size: Medium (11 to 20 performers)
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Interlocutor

A southern gentleman, kindly, who oversees the Minstrel Show. Loves to recall the good old days that never were. The Interlocutor served as the Master of Ceremonies for the traditional minstrel show. Typically played by a white man, the interlocutor conducted the proceedings, often portraying the fictionalized persona of a genteel southern plantation owner.

Gender: male
Age: 30 to 60
Vocal range top: C4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Mr. Bones

The other end man. Same requirements as Mr. Tambo. In addition to playing Mr. Bones, he plays a southern sheriff, prison guard, southern trial lawyer, District Attorney. The traditional minstrel show incorporates the antics of the two end men known as Mr. Tambo and Mr. Bones. The two are called upon by the Interlocutor to sing songs, tell jokes as well as play a variety of different characters in skits and stories. 

Gender: male
Age: 20 to 35
Vocal range top: E4
Vocal range bottom: Ab2
Mr. Tambo

The end man. Funny, inventive comedian and song-and-dance man. In addition to playing Mr. Tambo, he plays wide variety of characters including a prison guard, southern lawyer, and Samuel Leibowitz. The traditional minstrel show incorporates the antics of the two end men known as Mr. Tambo and Mr. Bones. The two are called upon by the Interlocutor to sing songs, tell jokes as well as play a variety of different characters in skits and stories.

Gender: male
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: A2
The Lady

A southern seamstress in her early 40’s. Working class. She observes the action. She is smart, clear-headed, compassionate and brings a sense of humanity to the story.

Gender: female
Age: 35 to 50
Andy Wright

Roy’s brother. Always wants to do the right thing. Mediates. Is the first one to follow the rules. Tries to keep Roy from getting into trouble. Thinks that if he is good, he will be able to go home.

Andy Wright left his native Chattanooga on a Southern Railroad freight train headed for Alabama, accompanied by his younger brother Roy. Andy was 19 at the time, and had had enough schooling that he could read and write a bit.

Gender: male
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: F2
Eugene Williams

13 years old. The youngest of them all. Naïve. Constantly has bad dreams. Tries to act tough, but is still a kid. Doesn’t understand what is happening. Must tap dance Also plays: Young George, The little white boy selling souvenirs.

Williams was convicted in a speedy trial at Scottsboro with the other boys, but the Supreme Court of Alabama struck down his conviction based on his young age.

Gender: male
Age: 15 to 20
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Haywood Patterson

Hotheaded. Smart. Willing to go up against the authorities, no matter what the cost. Willing to speak his mind and face the consequences. 

Haywood Patterson started riding the rails when he was fourteen. Patterson entered jail illiterate. “I held a pencil in my hand but I couldn’t tap the power that was in it.” But Patterson was a quick learner. “By the end of 1931, I got much confidence in my way with words so I prepared a Christmas gift for my mother, a letter by my own hand.”

Gender: male
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: C#5
Vocal range bottom: B2
Clarence Norris

The bully. Ornery. Starts fights. Belligerent. Determined to stand up for himself. Ultimately, when he gets the chance, he doesn’t. Also plays: The Preacher, a fire and brimstone prison minister who is just a little too anxious to please the white jailers.

The second of eleven children, Clarence Norris was put to work in the cotton fields at the age of seven. After his father died, Norris took a job at the local Goodyear plant, working up to sixteen hours a day. But the job ended. And Norris decided to hit the railroad tracks and look for work.

Gender: male
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: G2
Willie Roberson

The silent one—who is resourceful. Everyone thinks he is stupid—but he isn’t. Able to steal things from the guards. Must tap dance.

Willie Robertson was raised by his grandmother. When she died in 1930, Roberson left his job as a hotel busboy in Georgia to go to Chattanooga in search of work. Finding none available, he boarded a freight for Memphis in search of free medical care to treat an advanced case of syphilis.

Gender: male
Age: 16 to 21
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: B2
Ozie Powell

The smart one who understands exactly what is going to happen to all of them. Quiet, but very aware. Also plays: Ruby Bates, a white girl who is a little dim who ultimately recants the rape charge.

Ozie Powell, according to his own testimony during the first trial, only had three months of formal education. When he was fourteen, Powell left home. He worked in lumber camps and sawmills for weeks or months at a time before moving on.

Gender: male
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: B2
Roy Wright

Likable. Curious. Always going a little further than he should. Likes to show off. He knows how to read. Must tap dance. Roy Wright left home for the first time at the age of 13 to look for work with his older brother, Andy. Roy was one of the few boys who knew how to write.

Gender: male
Age: 20 to 25
Vocal range top: Bb4
Vocal range bottom: B2
Charles Weems

Likes to exaggerate. Always acting bigger than he really is. Also plays: Victoria Price, a white girl who sticks to her story. Mean, tough, tries to play the southern flower but can’t.

Charles Weems was only four when his mother died. Six of his seven siblings died soon afterwards. When his father fell ill, Weems was sent to live with his aunt Gussie McElroy. He was on his way home to Tennessee when he was pulled from the Southern Railroad and charged with rape.

Gender: male
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: B2
Olen Montgomery

Willing to say anything, do anything, just to get out.

Olen Montgomery was born in Monroe, Georgia. Extremely myopic and with a cataract in one eye, Montgomery could not see well at all. The pair of glasses he had was broken on the day of the arrest and he went for two years without a new pair.

Gender: male
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: B2