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1776
a Musical
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Sherman Edwards & Peter Stone

COMPANY : Stage Two Productions
VENUE : Kingswood United Methodist [WEBSITE]
ID# 2841

SHOWING : June 19, 2008 - June 29, 2008

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Tony Award-Winner for Best Musical. The seminal event in American history blazes to vivid life in this most unconventional of Broadway hits. It's the summer of 1776, and the nation is ready to declare independence... if only our founding fathers can agree to do it! "1776" follows John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, and Richard Henry Lee and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia as they attempt to convince the members of the second Continental Congress to vote for independence from the shackles of the British monarchy by signing the Declaration of Independence.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Bill Mahlandt
Musical Director Dennis Lewallen
Set Construction Bryan Blackmon
Roger Sherman Tom Bellamy
Thomas Jefferson Joshua Brown
George Reed Terry Carpenter
Joseph Hewes Kelly David Carr
Edward Rutledge Brad Dickey
John Dickinson Allan Dodson
Andrew McNair Dean Fowler
Benjamin Franklin Johnny Griffin
Rev. John Witherspoon Steve Grundy
Samuel Chase Oscar Gutierrez
John Adams Gary Heffelfinger
The Courier Patrick Hill
Lewis Morris Mark Hyde
Dr. Lyman Hall Jon Johnson
Robert Livingston Paul Komorner
Abigail Adams Kathy Kuczka
John Hancock Dennis Lewallen
Col. Thomas McKean Tim Link
Leather Apron Jim Lutes
Richard Henry Lee Bill Mahlandt
Judge James Wilson Jonathan Maxfield
Caesar Rodney Jeffrey Mayhue
Charles Thomson Steven Miller
Martha Jefferson Charity Pirkle
Stephen Hopkins Michael Shikany
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

I hold this truth to be self evident...
by mooniemcmoonster
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
4.5
I ADORED THIS SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been a fan of musical theatre most of my life and, up until this point, had never seen a production of 1776. I’d never read the script, heard any of the music, or read the book. I am not exactly sure what I was expecting it to be, but it far exceeded my expectations. It was funny, it was moving, it was inspirational, it was educational, it was funny (did I mention that this show is funny!?).

First off, in walking into the space, I thought the set was exceptional given the constraints of the room. That being said, because this was in a "fellowship hall" setting the seating wasn’t raked, so it made seeing things sometimes a bit difficult (I don’t think this was a problem for most people, but I’m all of 5’1 and I was sitting pretty far back). Most of the time though I was able to see just fine.

Gary Heffelfinger as John Adams was brilliant. For the sake of full disclosure, I know Gary very well and have worked with him on many occasions. He was my father in My Fair Lady and, in all honesty, he was the reason our group went to see the show. That said, he was absolutely magnificent. I completely forgot that I was watching my good friend Gary and was just blow away by the way he inhabited John Adams.

My other favorite performance of the night was Bill Mahlandt as Richard Henry Lee. I knew going in that he was the director and that someone else had originally been cast in the role and he took the role over, so I wasn’t necessarily expecting a lot. I thought he was precious! I loved the choices he made and was really impressed with his voice. He stole every scene he was in without being too cheeky or over the top...it’s a fine line and boy, he nailed it.

Special mention goes to Johnny Griffin as Ben Franklin (he was so good that I didn’t even care about the ridiculous hair piece), Michael Shikany as Stephen Hopkins (I was really hard on him in my review of Cabaret a few years ago, but he was just fabulous as Hopkins), and Kathy Kuczka as Abagail Adams (her voice was angelic and I loved the interaction between she and John in their scenes "together"ish). The only thing that really, really bothered me was Martha Jefferson’s song. It’s a beautiful, beautiful song, but it seemed like Ms Pirkle had some issues with the notes in her upper register. Her middle range is gorgeous, but those higher notes in the song were just not up to par. There was such a huge break between her chest and head voice that you could barely even hear the higher notes over the band (who weren’t terribly loud to begin with). Ordinarily it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but with a show of this caliber it just stood out like a sore thumb. I give this critique a lot, but its one of my pet peeves, being a singer myself.

It’s a shame this only ran 7 shows because that means a lot of people won’t get to see it. Kudos to a job well done, guys.
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by Sweet Babboo
(Sigh!) It's a real shame that this show is now closed and more people won't have the chance to see it over the July 4th weekend. With this much good PR, they might have had a packed house.

But I always recommend watching the 1972 movie if you can instead. It's equally marvellous!
Sniff... by the_unlikely_thespian
Oh Sweet Babboo, I so agree with you. What better marketing ploy than Independence Day itself. :-)

You guys are making me sad again. A lot of us were pretty sad that it ended so quickly. We felt like we were just hitting our stride and then it was all over.

Thanks to the both of you (and to the others as well) for the kind words.
by Sweet Babboo
The movie will be on TCM tomorrow, the 4th (naturally)...Actually, it's on at 2:00am on Saturday the 5th. But that's why the good Lord invented TIVO. William Daniels is nothing less than sensational as John Adams. Plus it has a young and fetching Blythe Danner, who was pregnant with Gwyneth at the time, singing her heart out to "He Plays the Violin"
A Declaration of Incredible
by a thespian in tears
Sunday, June 29, 2008
5.0
I rather enjoyed reading Dedalus' review of "1776" in the format of the actual document of the Declaration of Independence, and while I am not that creative, I do want to offer up my humble two "bits" worth.

I never remember laughing heartily at a history lesson, often it was quite the opposite. And even though I do love the script and the music, I had never seen it performed live on stage so I really was hoping that this wouldn't turn out to be a really LONG history lesson. But much to my delight, it was anything but that. It was an incredibly interesting and humorous show and most of that credit goes to the musicians, the costumes, the directors and the very talented cast.

The fact that it is, for the most part, a factual portrayal of historical events makes it pretty amazing all by itself. What these men (and women) felt, endured, gave up and for our freedom and our great country is pretty amazing. But, it is this cast that truly honors these great individuals of "1776" in the way in which each actor brings them back to life on stage with their unique talents.

Honorable mention, in my "history" book, for their performances and/or musical numbers goes to William Mahlandt (Lee), Johnny Griffin (Franklin), Brad Dickey (Rutledge), Joshua Brown (Jefferson) who does look a great deal like the real Jefferson and yes, the hair did live up to its rep, Allan Dodson (Dickerson) and Dean Fowler (Andrew Mc Nair.) Songs that gave me a lump to my throat were Patrick Hill's (the courier) with his sad rendition of "Momma, Look Sharp" and Gary Heffelfinger's (John Adams) heartfelt "Is Anybody there?" And what great chemistry between two characters that were not suppose to be in the same state together in the script, yet have to be on the same stage together, as was between Kathy Kuczka (Abigail Adams) and John Adams in their duets as husband and wife. What tender and touching moments.....

And I did save Gary Heffelfinger's (John Adams) performance for last. John Adams was the right man at the right time. Gary Heffelfinger was the right man for the right role. The depth and range of his emotions, whether in victory or defeat.... in stubborness or humbleness, as well as his tremendous abilities as a performer, drew the audience into the heart, mind and soul of an the honorable man that was John Adams. For without his strong will and determination, we would not be celebrating this up and coming 4th of July.

So in-between the celebrations of cookouts and fireworks, we need to take a moment to remember these great Americans. Yes, I am waxing patriotic this 4th of July as this show gives me the "holiday" spirit of 1776 and makes me proud to an American as well as a member of the audience of Stage Two Productions' "1776."


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oops.... by a thespian in tears
I called Allan Dodson's character Dickerson by mistake when it should have been Dickinson. Now you see how much attention I actually paid in history class....
A DECLARATION BY THE AUDIENCE ASSEMBLED ON 21 JUNE OF 2008
by Dedalus
Thursday, June 26, 2008
4.0
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one audience to dissolve the bounds of discretion that have prevented them from expressing a reaction to a production, no matter how founded or unfounded, the separate and equal stations of internet accessibility and wordsmithing experience entitle them to phrase that reaction in form and syntax echoing the subject that has impelled them to that expression.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that “1776” is a near-impossible endeavor for any low-budget, low resource company and venue to venture therein, and that all responses must needs acknowledge such difficulties, praising those moments of sheer accomplishment, and forgiving those moments that fall short of the ideal, but not so short as to betray the intent or the drive or the accomplishment of those pursuits that have surprised and inspired and informed. To ensure the equal pleasure of audiences who follow in our stead, we must submit these facts to the candid world.

Stage II, the non-professional organization attempting this particular pursuit, has mounted a production that exceeded the expectations of this audience, both in conception and execution.

IT HAS designed, at low expense, a setting that perfectly captures the Independence Hall site of the actions, using the existing church structures as part of the total image, structures that, in fact, reflect contrived structures of the first touring company from 37 years past.

IT HAS contracted, at presumably high expense, a costume plot that evokes the characters and schema established by the historical record and past productions of this particular endeavor. While the clear-cut North/South delineation of design is subdued here, it has certain charms of its own. We refer specifically to the yielding of individuality in North Carolina’s ensemble to perfectly mirror South Carolina’s. Although we echo others’ distain at the apparent cheesiness of Dr. Franklin’s head-piece, and candidly admit our distraction by it, we nevertheless forgive it for no reason other than sheer civic charity. We were even less distracted by the clean and ill-distressed travelling uniform of the Courier, or the seemingly gilded vestments of humble cobbler Mr. Sherman.

IT HAS appointed, at presumably no expense, a cast that synergizes well, that ably captures character and emotion, that sings pleasantly, and, most importantly, that carries us through the several extended dialog sections, even though we know the outcome, and, in some cases, have heard the same lines countless times before. Special mention must be made of Gary Heffelfinger’s Mr. Adams and Allan Dodson’s Mr. Dickenson. These two gentlemen, giving performances on par with professionals who have trekked these footsteps in productions prior, are personally responsible for the success, the drive of these long sequences. Special note should also be paid Kathy Kuczka’ Mrs. Adams, who, at first look, appeared most miscast, but who, within seconds of her first appearance, convinced with her skill at character and song.

IT HAS engaged, at totally unknown expense, musicians to accompany the cast without (too often) overpowering them. Special note must needs be accorded pianist Sindhu Giedd, percussionist Neal Giedd (in spite of several of us missing the whip cracks and anvil clangs traditional to “Molasses to Rum”), and violinist Suzanne Hamer (particularly the soaring arpeggios of “He Plays the Violin”).

IT HAS optioned a script that combines musical-comedy and dramatic license with historical verisimilitude to make this seminal moment of our history spurt to life, demoting our founding fathers from the demi-god pedestals on which too many of us have mounted (or stuffed) them. While we have our doubts as to some details (the visit of Martha Jefferson, the pivotal role of Judge Wilson, the foppishness of Richard Henry Lee, the sycophancy of Mr. Hewes, the tendency to occasionally break into song), we are somewhat less skeptical of the characters, the issues in conflict, and the basic humanity of all those portrayed. We also have little doubt that many characters are composites. To cite one example, we daresay some of Samuel Adams’ more incendiary qualities were assigned to his cousin John, and we equally daresay much of John Dickinson’s pacifistic Quaker characteristics were assigned to Roger Sherman. This is all easily forgiven, as it gives conviction to the more important lessons on display. We hold this truth to also be self-evident – that individual inaccuracy does not attenuate the ultimate “truthiness” of the endeavor, but can, in point of paradoxical fact, enhance it.

IT HAS in the persons of director William Mahlandt and Musical Director Dennis Lewallen, guided a large cast of mixed ability and experience, in a well-orchestrated ensemble that makes excellent use of the small church venue, that finds moments of inspiration (the Walking Stick thumps during “Cool Considerate Men” give it an energy we’ve seldom encountered in this politically unpleasant ode), and that makes the entire endeavor add up to much more than the sum of its often skillful (occasionally struggling) components. They have imbued this long, historically complex piece with a drive and energy that compels us to listen, to learn, and to applaud.

WE THEREFORE, as representatives of the Audience in Congress Assembled on this 21st of June, 2008, appealing to the acknowledgement of our reputation established heretofore, pledge to you, our readers, that we have accurately assessed this particular production, and upon our recommendation in honor of this production, base our future reputation, our integrity, and our sacred honor.

Signed, by order of and on behalf of said audience,

Bradley, K. Rudy.
Marietta, GA

(BKRudy@aol.com)


[POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Big improvement!
by feather
Monday, June 23, 2008
3.5
For the most part, I really enjoyed watching 1776 at Kingswood UMC. It is a big improvement over company, which I watched last year. Overall the acting and singing is a big step forward. The cast overall is mixed in talent, making the show somewhat inconsistent in quality and enjoyment. but the leads are overall solid, especially John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. I also liked the page. The costumes are good, and the set is fine. My only issue is the pacing and the energy. Its inconsistent because, as I already mentioned, the mix in talent. But it appears the direction could have been stronger, getting more out of the actors. but I'm being picky here. Good job! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
You Won't Snooze During This History Lesson
by Sweet Babboo
Sunday, June 22, 2008
4.0
This being my all-time favorite musical, it's difficult for me NOT to sing the praises of this show. It's a show that musical theatre people love with a passion - present company included. The score and book are still brilliant, charming, biting and relevant even after almost 40 years since it took home the 1969 Tony for Best Musical (Beating out the outrageously popular "Hair" for the honor, I may add). It's not done that often because of the sheer size of its almost all-male cast of thousands and period costumes. It's also often a hard sell to those not familiar with it. "A musical about the signing of the Declaration of Independence! Who the heck wants to see that?" But believe me, this show is worth the time and effort. Not only is it engaging, funny and delightful as a musical comedy alone, but it is very thought-provoking. When I first saw 1776 in my mid-20's, it gave me, for the first time, a deep respect and appreciation for the founding fathers. For the first time in my life, I truly understood the guts it took for those men to risk everything they had in signing that document and just how close it came to not happening at all. This show had such an impact on me, that I make it a point to watch the movie every July 4th. It's not about the fireworks and parades for me and this show reminds me every year just how proud I am to be an American.

The production at Stage II is very competent and enjoyable. The audience (including several college-aged members) were engrossed throughout the entire production, as if they didn't know what the final outcome would be. The cast works extremely well together as an ensemble. But this show soars or sinks on the shoulders of John Adams and Gary Heffelfinger does the demanding role very proud. Mr. Heffelfinger adds the right amount of charm and stubborness and vocally hits all the right notes. Other standouts in the cast include Dennis Lewellen as John Handcock, William Mahlandt as Richard Henry Lee, Allan Dodson as Adams' antagonist, John Dickinson, Brad Dickey as Edward Rutledge, Kathy Kuszka as Abigail Adams, Joshua Brown as Thomas Jefferson (Great Hair!) and Johnny Griffin as Ben Franklin (Great acting, but a bad wig).

The set is attractive and (mostly) accurate. I'm from Philadelphia originally and the tour guides at Independence Hall always told us that there never was an actual toteboard at the second Continental Congress. Nevertheless, it's most attractive to see and adds to the suspense of the show. The costumes are beyond fabulous in luxury and detail. They simply took my breath away. Although, I must quibble about Roger Sherman "A simple cobbler from Connecticutt" dressed in sumptuous red velvet with gold trim. And The Courier (Patrick Hill, beautiful voice!)didn't have even a speck of mud on his pristine blue velvet costume. The lighting is minimal at best and there are just not enough instuments to effectively light the stage, let alone offer much variety in design. The orchestra is small, but excellent, providing a rich, full sound to Sherman Edwards' wonderful score. Some of the soloists had volume trouble during their numbers, which in a small venue as this was a shame. But I know this score backwards and forwards, so at least I know what I was missing.

If you've never seen 1776 before, this production is definately worth the drive out to Dunwoody for. It's not done in the Atlanta area that often, so when it is, it's a rare and beautiful thing. Kudos William Mahlandtt and Stage II for mounting an enjoyable, well-directed production. Happy 4th! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
by Sweet Babboo
I almost forgot to mention my very talented friend, Kelly David Carr, who makes the most out of his small role of Edward Rutledge's lapdog, Joseph Hewes, even when he's trapped in an upstage left corner thoughout most of the show. Although he does have the second-best hair in the cast.


[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

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