In the summer of 1776, Philadelphia was melting under a blazingly hot sun. Across the thirteen colonies, the citizenry was clamoring for independence from the British monarchy. However, inside Independence Hall the Founding Fathers were bickering, wasting time and refusing to compromise. Some things never change.
“1776, the Musical” opens on Wednesday, January 24 at the Waterfront Playhouse. This powerful theatrical event will play for two weeks only with performances Tuesday to Sunday. There will one low-priced preview on January 23, with all performances at 8 PM. The production is sponsored by Preferred Properties.
“1776” is the legendary musical that captures the galvanizing moment of the American Story – the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The show is as poignant today as it was almost 50 years ago when it premiered on Broadway to glowing reviews and multiple awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical over “Hair” and “Promises, Promises.” Insightful and funny with a catchy score, “1776” delivers a striking message of hope and freedom.
The story follows a feisty John Adams as he struggles to push the Continental Congress to vote for independence. Along with fellow revolutionaries like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, Adams pleads, bullies and reluctantly agrees to go against his better judgment in order to “form a more perfect union.” The musical celebrates these proud, frightened, uncertain, irritable, charming, often petty, and ultimately noble figures determined to do the right thing for a fledgling nation. The New York Post called it “a brilliant and moving work of theatrical art.”
The musical’s book and lyrics were written by Sherman Edwards, with the book by Peter Stone. In 1972, it was made into an Oscar-nominated movie. Almost the entire Broadway cast recreated their roles for the film version, almost unheard of in Broadway to film standards.
“1776” promises to be one of the largest and most challenging productions ever undertaken locally. Twenty-five actors and nine musicians will take to the stage of the Waterfront to portray this compelling musical. It will be directed by the Waterfront’s artistic director, Danny Weathers, with Maestro Vincent Zito acting as musical director and conductor.
Mr. Weathers said, “I’m beyond excited to bring this beautiful musical to our stage and the Keys. As I was putting the season together last year, I kept thinking the show was too big, too much of a risk. But the words coming out of these men who lived almost 250 years ago had such resonance and impact, especially in our bitterly divided times, that I ultimately felt it was too important not to do.”
The amazing cast will feature David Black (John Adams), J. B. McLendon (Benjamin Franklin), Jeffrey Harwell (John Dickinson), Mathias Malhoff (Richard Henry Lee), Laurie Breakwell (Abigail Adams), Rock Solomon (Thomas Jefferson), Matt Hollis Hulsey (Edward Rutledge), John Wells (Stephen Hopkins), Stephanie Sander (Martha Jefferson), John Reynolds (Lyman Hall), Tom Murtha (John Hancock), Don Bearden (Charles Thomson), Jack Agnew (McNair), Xavier McKnight (A Courier), Bob Bowersox (Rev. Witherspoon), Trey Forsyth (Robert Livingston), Hy Conrad (Dr. Josiah Bartlett), Dean Walters (Roger Sherman), Nathan Gay (Lewis Morris), Arthur Crocker (James Wilson), Ross Pipkin (Caesar Rodney), Tom Thayer (George Read), John McDonald (Col. Thomas McKean), Karl Stahl (Samuel Chase) and Bob Wood (Joseph Hewes).
The orchestra includes Vincent Zito (keyboards), Roberta Jacyshyn (keyboards), Mark Rose (reeds), Donna DeForrest (reeds), Celicia Slafter (reeds), Larry Abromowitz (violin), D. Nathanson (cello) and Daniel Carter (percussion).
The Waterfront’s acclaimed scenic designer, Michael Boyer will create the setting of Independence Hall. Carmen Rodriguez and Leigh Hooten have collaborated on costume design, with Rodriguez in charge of props. John Jaworski acts as lighting designer and Trish Manley acts as stage manager.
All Opening Night subscribers and ticket holders, please note that opening night is WEDNESDAY, January, 24 with a post production gala party held in the Sculpture Garden sponsored through a generous donation by Fred Greenberg, in honor of his late wife, Linda Greenberg. Season sponsors are Digital Island Media, Wodu Media and Royal Furniture.
Tickets are $55 and are available at www.waterfrontplayhouse.org or at 305-294-5015. Memberships, subscriptions and gift certificates are available on our website. Also, check out our Friday Night Date Night deal, as well as other discounts on the website.