Members say: Great acting, Entertaining, Clever, Intelligent, Relevant

About the show

Encores! concert version of the Tony Award-winning musical about the birth of our nation features TV stars Santino Fontana and John Larroquette as founding fathers.

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Before 'Hamilton' there was '1776,' a musical about how the founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence and gave birth to a new nation. A show that presents John Adams (Santino Fontana), Thomas Jefferson (John Behlmann), and Benjamin Franklin (Tony winner John Larroquette) in all their fractious complexity, the Encores! concert will remind you of how far America has come—and how little we’ve changed.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

New York Magazine / Vulture

"That Edwards’s songs are so secondary, and Stone’s book so good—certainly one of the best ever written for a musical—makes '1776' an unexpected choice for the Encores!...The sound from the orchestra is glorious and so is the production. Under Garry Hynes’s patient, probing, and emotionally vivid direction, it ranks as one of the best of the 68 musical revivals Encores! has offered...The actors thrillingly succeed in making the drama play as if it never happened before—onstage or off." Full Review


"Stone’s book has been much acclaimed and cited as one the best ever for a musical. Stripped of period trappings its effectiveness is even more evident...Edwards’ clever lyrics and rousing melodies combined with the book have made '1776 'one of the most beloved shows by musical theater devotees and the public...Besides artfully integrating modernity into the piece with her fine concert adaptation of the original book, director Hynes has staged this presentation with vibrancy and precision." Full Review

Edge New York

"The genius of '1776' is that it tells a story we all know the end to in a way that is so effective that it feels like a nail-biter...Composer/lyricist Sherman Edwards wrote a delightful score that brings the personalities of these Founding Fathers to life...The cast is phenomenal all around...Peter Stone's book for '1776', often praised as one of the finest in the musical theater canon, sounds as fresh, witty, and insightful as ever." Full Review

New York Post

"It’s witty, intricately plotted and surprisingly suspenseful. As John Adams and Ben Franklin, respectively, Santino Fontana and John Larroquette drive the show with the energy and chemistry of a comedy duo...Director Garry Hynes adds sly curveballs, like the casting of African-American Nikki Renée Daniels as Martha Jefferson. But what’s most striking is how powerfully '1776' argues for unity, honor and, yes, compromise—a resonant note in our divided times." Full Review

Simon Parris Man in Chair

"Although Peter Stone’s book is very wordy for a concert, the chance to hear Sherman Edwards’ marvelous score played is a definite attraction...For a story whose outcome is known, Stone generates plenty of tension and conflict...The 26 characters of the ensemble company are clearly established, and the moments of character-based humor land many appreciative laughs. Edwards’ score is a terrific collection of melodies and styles, with his songs breaking up the action in a entertaining manner." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"In the 22-year history of Encores! none of the five-dozen-plus musicals it’s produced has ever retained as much book as what’s on stage now...Almost all of Peter Stone’s book is on view, which is entirely fitting, given that it’s the best book a musical has ever had...making a story suspenseful when we already know the Declaration will indeed be signed? What a miracle that after a half-hour of watching Stone’s plot, we come to believe that there COULDN’T ever be a United States of America." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"While this current incarnation is not perfect, it nonetheless makes a compelling argument that the show would find receptive audiences for a commercial run...The book by Peter Stone is considered one of the finest in all of musical theater...Considering the show's considerable demands, the ensemble is largely fine despite their limited rehearsal time...The marvel of this show is how it manages to keep us in suspense even though its outcome is known to all...'1776' makes history come alive." Full Review

AM New York

"Although Sherman Edwards’ score is thoroughly winning, '1776' revolves primarily around Peter Stone’s witty, dramatically-charged book…As staged by Irish director Garry Hynes, this is a lean presentation of the musical that would have been even more effective and fluid had the actors benefited from a longer rehearsal period. Santino Fontana is unusually likable and photogenic as the 'obnoxious and disliked' John Adams, but still captures the character’s fervor and fighting spirit." Full Review


"There is no question that this is one musical where the book outshines the songs...This is not to disparage Sherman Edwards’ score, which is tuneful enough and does the show no harm; indeed, the songs provide much-needed breaks from the tension of the arguing, debating, and negotiating...Santino Fontana is terrific as John Adams...No one will claim that '1776' fails to play fast and loose with the details...Still and all, this is a fine production of a show." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Garry Hynes’ supremely intelligent and entertaining revival of '1776'...shines as a sterling recreation of the struggles of the representatives of the original 13 colonies as they grappled with the question of American independence...Admittedly, '1776' is more a play with music than a traditional musical, with a mere dozen songs scattered throughout its nearly three hours. And only a few of them even stick in your head...The entire production benefits from a surplus of keen casting." Full Review


"One of Broadway's finest-written musicals not only serves as a great history lesson, but also strikes many newly-relevant chords...Musically, this '1776' succeeds greatly. However, this is the rare musical where the book is so strong that many of the evening's emotional high points are spoken, so in this case the numerous cuts decrease the drama's effectiveness...The production has the makings of one that could really gel together into something fresh and invigorating." Full Review

New York Theater

"The book of ‘1776’ is the best thing about the show…It is educational, yes, but it is also suspenseful, funny, playful, sharply relevant and downright moving…While they’re all pleasant enough, only a handful of the songs offer memorable melodies and lyrics…Dressing the cast in modern business suits doesn’t do much for me...Yet, ultimately, none of these shortcomings, nor the uneven performances of the large cast, diminish the effect of '1776.'" Full Review


"A superb concert production of a somewhat lackluster musical (but better play)...Under the direction of Garry Hynes, Peter Stone's extended book scenes come alive, so much so that we often forget we are at a concert presentation...But unlike most musicals, the score is really not the main course...While there are aspects of '1776' that don't seem to mesh with reality, it is more truthful than not and certainly gets us thinking about the foundational battles of our union." Full Review

The New York Times

"'1776' can sometimes feel like C-Span set to music...Your instinct is to yell down the corridors of history, 'Pick up the pace, guys!' You may occasionally feel like shouting the same instructions at the cast members onstage...This cleanly mounted production begins with marvelous gusto...Mr. Fontana shoulders the responsibilities of a leading man with irresistible focus and passion…What was, and remains, revolutionary about ‘1776’ is that it dares to be as dull as real politics can often be." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Long-winded scenes without music are as enjoyable as taxation without representation. Stretches of the almost three-hour show are a slog. Still, Stone’s witty jokes about a do-nothing Congress never fail to hit the mark. Polarizing founding father John Adams does gags that could work for a Jimmy Fallon monologue...Set over three tempestuous and bloody months running up to July, 4, 1776, the show’s return is perfectly timed for current, high-stakes politics." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"'1776' functions more as a play than as a musical, and thus makes steeper dramatic demands of its directors and performers. That's where this version gets into trouble. Director Garry Hynes hasn't brought out enough of its inherent vitality. Beyond the issues of her own sedate but unfocused staging...almost none of the actors have had the time they need with roles this complex...The production is bogged down in the words that simply haven't had the opportunity to become musical enough." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Delightful, Intelligent, Great singing

See it if Fan of 1776 in any form.

Don't see it if Cannot sit for a lengthy musical.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You really want to see Hamilton but can't afford it

Don't see it if You don't enjoy historical musicals or you want to see a show with women in it.

Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent, Great singing

See it if You like musicals based on history done in a more modern way, but not Hamilton

Don't see it if You want a tap dancing traditional Broadway style romp

Also I love the Encores series at City Center. Good or bad it doesn't reall... Read more Read less

Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Great writing, Great singing

See it if You love the show 1776. You want to see a great semi-staged musical that feels very relevant. You want great lyrics.

Don't see it if You hate musicals.

Clever, Delightful, Intelligent, Masterful, Great singing

See it if you want to see the OG singing founding fathers

Don't see it if you don't like book-in-hand concert stagings.

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You want to see how politics really haven't changed that much over time. 1776 is just as relevant now as ever before.

Don't see it if You don't like historical musicals.

Absorbing, Masterful, Must see, Profound, Entertaining

See it if You want to learn more about history, love musicals and want to be absorbed in a show.

Don't see it if You want a dancing musical with a lot of sunny songs.

Funny, Clever, Slow, Dated, Entertaining

See it if you want to see where Hamilton came from; if you like American history with a side of humor

Don't see it if you only want to see the founding fathers if they rap; there's a whole lot of talking and not a lot of singing here

Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Refreshing, Relevant

See it if As someone who had neither seen a production or the film, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. It was engrossing & entertaing

Don't see it if It can be hard to sit in the Balcony section of City Center; you high up & back, so it can get tiring looking down constantly.

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy historical musicals

Don't see it if you don't like long stretches in a musical without songs

Funny, Clever, Great acting, Dated, Entertaining

See it if You love American history

Don't see it if You won't like seeing the original produced in modern day costume

Clever, Delightful, Intelligent

See it if You loved history musicals, Hamilton, and want to see what came before, (and cannot get tickets to Hamilton!)

Don't see it if You loved Hamilton and cannot deal with something more low key!!

Absorbing, Intelligent, Masterful, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if If you love great acted shows with a wonderful score

Don't see it if You want a fully staged production

Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if You love s great score and interesting historical storyline

Don't see it if You don't like talkie musicals

Classic, Great singing, Educational, Nuanced

See it if Love history, John Larroquette's patented delivery, intense Santino/Bryce, Santino+Christiane chem, to hear the score beautifully presented

Don't see it if Also annoyed that nontrad casting didn't extend to gender, can't stand long stretches without musical numbers, don't know the ending, plaid

Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You have any interest in American history.

Don't see it if You don't care about American history and are looking for something modern and hip.

Thought-provoking, Masterful, Relevant, Resonant, Long

See it if You love American history, don't mind being hit with uncomfortable topics, want to feel patriotic

Don't see it if You hate/don't know American history, don't like concert versions of musicals,

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if you are a huge history buff and love witty smart humor.

Don't see it if you are not a history fan or have a hard time with long shows

Funny, Clever, Delightful, Relevant

See it if you get a chance. I honestly didn't really know the show and, even with the limited staging, I really enjoyed it.

Don't see it if you don't like colorblind casting (though I think that's a hang-up you need to get over at this point).

Wooden musical, wonderful production

See it if /for strong performances by many of principals particularly Santino Fontana as John Adams, Christiane Noll as Abigail Adams; fine orchestra

Don't see it if /since not a very good musical: songs are pedestrian and jokes and gags are obvious; still inspiring in this ugly era of political gridlock

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Indulgent, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you don't mind sitting through a slooooooooow first act to get to a good second.

Don't see it if require lyrics promote the book and move the performance around. A few good songs but mostly trite

Absorbing, Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if you can't get tickets to Hamilton

Don't see it if you hate America?

Clever, Relevant, Resonant, Cliched, Slow

See it if u like issues & a tuneful score. A good "Encores!" show, tho wordy in 1st pt; jokes, C minus; some songs trumped up; Santino F: ++++.

Don't see it if It's gone now and unlikely to be brought to B'way.

Absorbing, Delightful, Great acting, Relevant

See it if you like the show or any of the cast. It's a fantastic concert production with wonderful performances all around.

Don't see it if long stretches of dialogue bother you in musicals. It's a very talky musical, but I loved it.

Profound, Entertaining, Great score, Great book

See it if you have a time machine. (I just saw the final performance.) But if there's ever a fully-staged revival, see it for the classic book & score

Don't see it if you need the sets, costumes, choreography, etc. to enjoy a musical.

Cast & Creatives (33)