Juvenile Justice Initiative and ACLU Officials to Speak Following “Direct from Death Row” Performance

Speakers from the Juvenile Justice Initiative and the American Civil Liberties Union to lead discussion following November 7th performance of Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys

Post-show discussion will follow the 7:30 PM performance

CHICAGO, IL – Raven Theatre will welcome Elizabeth Clarke, founder and President of the Juvenile Justice Initiative and one of its board members, Khadine Bennett, staff attorney and Legislative Counsel with the ACLU of Illinois, when they visit the theater to lead a discussion of its critically acclaimed Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys following the November 7th performance of the play. The two will join cast members and director Michael Menendian in a talk about the legal cases depicted in Mark Stein’s historical play and those cases’ significance to the continuing struggle for racial justice and reform of our country’s juvenile justice system.

The Juvenile Justice Initiative, based in Evanston, is a statewide non-profit advocacy organization with a mission to transform the juvenile justice system by reducing reliance on confinement, enhancing fairness for all youth, and developing a comprehensive continuum of community-based resources throughout the state. The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization whose stated mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country .

Playwright Mark Stein’s play with music and dance, a satirical retelling of the true story of nine African-American teenagers falsely convicted in 1931 of raping two white women on a train in Alabama, will be performed by an all-African-American cast of nine actors. It is directed by Raven Theatre Company co-founder and co-Artistic Director Michael Menendian, with Frederick Harris providing musical direction for the score by Harley White Jr. Kathleen Dennis is choreographer. The production began performances Wednesday, September 16 and November 14, 2015. Tickets are on sale now at www.raventheatre.com or by calling 773-338-2177.

Following its official opening on September 22, 2015, Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys received rave reviews from Chicago’s critical community. The Chicago Tribune, awarding the play four stars, lauded the production’s “supremely gifted and compelling young ensemble.” Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Hedy Weiss said “It’s a stunner.” Eight other outlets rated the show “Highly Recommended” as well.

The cast of six men and three women boasts extensive credits from companies throughout the Chicago theatre community and all but one of the performers play multiple roles. Kevin Patterson plays Haywood Patterson and Andrew Malone plays the defendant Charlie Weems as well as the attorney Sam Liebowitz. Breon Arzell, who was in The Hypocrites’ All Our Tragic this summer, plays the accused Willie Roberson and also attorney Joe Brodsky. Semaj Miller, producing director of Dream Fierce Productions, is both the “Scottsboro Boy” Olen Montgomery and General Knight. Brandon Greenhouse, an actor with credits at American Players Theatre who also appeared in Eclipse Theatre Company’s Intimate Apparel, is Andy Wright and NAACP leader Walter White. Tamarus Harvell, who performed in 2014’s The Trials of Moses Fleetwod Walker at Black Ensemble Theatre and was also seen in Raven’s A Soldier’s Play, plays the accused Clarence Norris as well as Judge Horton and the Prosecutor.

The women in the cast play the youngest three “boys,” the women they were accused of attacking and some of the boys’ mothers. They include Katrina D. Richard, who appeared in Black Ensemble Theater’s Chicago’s Golden Soul who plays Eugene Williams, Victoria, Old Victoria and a mother. Charli Williams, whose Chicago stage credits include El Stories and whose film credits include Grindhouse and Stop-Loss is Leroy Wright and a mother. Anna Dauzvardis, a 2014 graduate of Loyola University’s theatre program, is Ozie Powell, Ruby Bates and a mother.

Longtime Raven designer Ray Toler, who on June 8th won a Jeff Award for his scenic design of Raven’s Vieux Carré, has designed the set for Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys, with properties design and set dressing by Mary O’Dowd. Sarah Jo White created the costumes and masks have been designed by David Knezz. Diane D. Fairchild is Lighting Designer and Joe Court is Sound Designer.

Not to be confused with the musical The Scottsboro Boys, which ran on Broadway in late 2010, Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys is a play by Mark Stein with songs by Harley White Jr. that premiered at River Stage in Sacramento, California and enjoyed a subsequent production at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles in fall of 2002.

Raven Theatre is located at 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago. There are a limited number of free parking spaces available in the parking lot adjacent to the theatre, and free on-street parking is available nearby.


Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys

(An Evening of Vaudeville and Sorrow)


By Mark Stein, Music and Lyrics by Harley White Jr.

Directed by Michael Menendian

Music Direction by Frederick Harris, Choreography by Kathleen Dennis

All performances on Raven’s East Stage

6157 N. Clark St. (at Granville), Chicago



Nearest El station Granville Red Line, Buses: #21 (Clark), #36 (Broadway), #151 (Sheridan), #155 (Devon), #64 (Peterson).

Opening Night Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Runs September 25 – November 14, 2015

Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 pm. Sundays at 3 pm.

General admission $42.00, seniors $37.00 ($3.00 discount if ordered online in advance), students, teachers and military $18.00 ($1.00 discount if ordered online in advance)

Groups of 10 or more are $21.00 for Thursday and Friday performances and $25.00 for Saturday and Sunday performances. Call 773-338-2177 to inquire about groups. Daytime performances for school groups are available on request.