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. More…
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.
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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 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
"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
"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
"'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
"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
"'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 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,
See it if You like more than a fluff show. This one has a bite, especially in this election year. In modern dress the show resonates more than ever.
Don't see it if You want a show that is childish or has no depth. This one is educational and moving at times - not for the very young or immature.
See it if if you love 1776. I never tire of this show and have seen it so many times. The book always works for me. Inspired casting.
Don't see it if you're going to complain about long book scenes. You like your 1776 in wigs and revolutionary war drag.
See it if you are a fan of American History & want to see this gem, set in what seems like modern day. If you follow politics, you'll enjoy it.
Don't see it if you can't follow complex shows or if you dislike Historical dramas. There's more drama than music.
See it if you're into historic pieces with a modern twist. The actors in this production wear business suits, supporting the show's relevance today.
Don't see it if you don't like true stories that take creative liberties.
See it if you love Hamilton and American history. This show was original in its time and still holds up. Santino Fontana was terrific as John Adams.
Don't see it if you hate American history.
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