Richard, Susan, and I saw a minimally-staged production of *1776* at City Center Encores on 4/1. It's a musical from 1969 about the debate in Congress over the Declaration of Independence - - whether we should make such a declaration at all, and then what it should say. It won the Tony for Best Musical, ran for three years, and was revived in 1997.
The Encores production was directed by Garry Hynes, who directed the gender-blind Irish productions of *Henry IV, Part One*, *Henry IV, Part Two*, and *Henry V* that Karen Miller and I saw last summer. Her illuminating wrinkle in this production was having it be racially blind, and to have the actors were contemporary dress. It really drove home the point that deadlock in Congress is nothing new. As Susan said, "Plus ca change..."
John Adams was played by the tasty young actor Santino Fontana. Richard and I saw him in *Cinderella* and *Act One*, he was very good in both. He delivered the stubbornness and also the charm of Adams.
John Larroquette played Ben Franklin and was sweet and bumbling and everything you'd want in the role. He don't sing too good, but hey, you can't have everything.
And John Behlmann played Thomas Jefferson. Not a lot of singing, but what he did he did well. Plus he's tall.
Bryce Pinkham played John Dickinson, the leader of the opposition. Sang well, though I wonder how his fluttery voice will age. It hasn't turned out too well for Mandy Patinkin. And Alexander Gemignani, playing Edward Rutledge, had a show-stopping number about slavery. I wasn't totally sold on the number, but it was written in a way that it had to stop the show.
I wasn't totally sold on the show on the whole, to be honest. It was fascinating, and I can see why people would love it. But the music doesn't always live up to the quality of the subject, and WAY too many key changes. It's a cheap trick to have a key change instead of writing more music, and I'm not fooled by it. About half the songs featured multiple key changes, and it started to tap dance on my last gay nerve.