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1776, The Musical
a Musical Comedy
by Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards; Book by Peter Stone

COMPANY : Dorsey Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Dorsey Studio for the Performing Arts
ID# 4349

SHOWING : September 14, 2012 - October 07, 2012



"1776" is a delightful musical account of the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence by representatives of the 13 original colonies. The 21-character musical play --19 men and two women-- is presented professionally in the intimate Dorsey theater with tuneful zest and just in time for the 2012 Elections!
For tickets and information go to or call 1-800-838-3006.

Director Sandra Ellenburg Dorsey
James Wilson David Azzarello
Edward Rutledge Hal Brody
John Hancock Lee Buechele
George Read Jonathan Cates
Cesar Rodney Stuart Culpepper
Dr. Lyman Hall Brad Dickey
Roger Sherman Bill Harding
Col. Thomas McKean Tim Link
Abigail Adams Mary Beth Morrison
John Adams David Parlier
Rev. Jonathan Witherspoon Kermit Rolisom
Thomas Jefferson Don Smith
Richard Henry Lee Tony Smithey
Martha Jefferson Whitney Umstead
Benjamin Franklin Robert Wayne
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Someone Open Up a Window
by playgoer
Sunday, October 7, 2012
The Dorsey Theater stinks. Literally. There's a musky, mildewy odor that hits the nostrils as soon as you enter. It does not abate as you descend the stairs into the intimate downstairs playing space. It lessens there, or you get used to it. You forget about it during the show.

"1776" is a fine book musical, and its storytelling is first-rate. Nothing in the Dorsey Theater's production harms the story, but there are a few failings. The set, designed by Tony Smithey, looks slapdash, but has a magnificent tote board borrowed from Stage II's production of the show a few years back. Costumes, by Tony Smithey and Jeff Kinard Costumes, are generally magnificent, with the baffling exception of a non-period zippered vest worn by Mr. Smithey in his role as Richard Henry Lee. Wigs, provided by Wende Cammack and Monty Schuth, run the gamut from fine to obviously wiggy.

The cast is generally fine, but contains a first-time performer whose vacant expression detracts from many a moment in the show. The casting of two roles also seems to be backwards. Stan Heaton, a ginger-haired romantic leading man type, is cast as John Dickinson, while Don Smith, a vitally forceful presence, is cast as Thomas Jefferson. I think the show would have been much stronger if the two actors had been switched. Don Smith would have been a more believable conservative antagonist of John Adams, and Stan Heaton looks remarkably like the historical Jefferson. As it is, the Jefferson and Adams of the show are cast with actors who appear each to be 15 years older than the stated ages of their characters.

There's a lot of good in the show. When the pros are onstage together, there's magic. David Parlier, as John Adams, has created a believable, consistent character, as has Robert Wayne as Benjamin Franklin. The two women of the cast also do fine work. Mary Beth Morrison, as Abigail Adams, brings a freshness and strength to her role. Whitney Umstead Sinkule also does a delightful job of acting. Both women have terrific voices, as does Mr. Wayne. Mr. Parlier's voice is a bit reedy, but he uses it to great effect. Chorally, the show sounds great. Accompaniment, provided by Patrick Hutchinson and Sean VanMeter, is quite effective, with the exception of some obviously synth-toned violin strains.

For such a small space, an ambitious lighting scheme has been designed by Chris Whittle. Focused lights and spotlight beams provide atmosphere in the more intimate moments, while overall lighting does a good job of illuminating the general action. The lighting is one of the more professional elements of the show.

"1776" is a Tony-winning musical that has held up well. Dorsey Theater's production is a mixture of professional and amateurish portions that don't blend particularly well, but which do the job of telling the story. With David Parlier and Robert Wayne in the forefront, the enjoyment level reaches the sky. Otherwise, the enjoyment level is a bit more earth-bound. Still, all in all, this is a good production of a musical everyone interested in American musical theatre should see. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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