Plays in the Park: 1776 – Images by Metuchen Living

Here’s another reason why we love Metuchen…Plays in the Park! It’s right in our backyard (so to speak). The wonderful, talented and dedicated people of Plays in the Park kicked off their 2010 season with the Musical 1776 Wednesday night. And Metuchen Living was there front and center. What a wonderful fun show it was. The set was a feast for the eyes, the costumes exquisite and the singing! Oh the singing. With shows like 1776 from Plays in the Park, there’s little reason to hop on the train to see a Broadway show. We encourage everyone to go see 1776 this summer, bring nice comfy chairs, bug repellant and prepare to be delighted! $6 to get in, popcorn not included. 😉

Wednesday, June 23 through Saturday, July 3 (No Sundays)
Showtime: 8:30 pm

A word from the Producer

“1776” is a very unique musical. It concerns a true historic event – not the usual subject of a musical. It might be considered a “play with music” in that it contains fewer songs and more dramatic scenes than most musicals — yet its 13 songs are among the most tuneful, memorable and exciting. And every time I see the show or the film I am amazed that despite the fact that I know how the whole thing is going to turn out — spoiler alert: the Declaration will indeed be signed — the show is crafted in such a brilliant manner as to leave the outcome in doubt until the very last moment.

For those of you curious about the “history” of the show itself, below is from Wikipedia:

The musical was produced on Broadway in 1969, running for 1.217 performances, and was made into a film of the same name in 1972. The show was nominated for five Tony Awards and won three, including Best Musical, Sherman Edwards, a singer of pop-songs with several top ten hits in the late fifties and early sixties, developed lyrics and libretto for a musical based on the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Edwards recounted that, “I wanted to show (the founding fathers) at their outmost limits. These men were the cream of their colonies… They disagreed and fought with each other. But they understood commitment, and though they fought, they fought affirmatively.”

Producer Stuart Ostrow recommended that librettist Peter Stone collaborate with Edwards on the book of the musical. Stone recalled, “The minute you heard (“SIt Down, John”), you knew what the whole show was…. You knew immediately that John Adams and the others were not going to be treated as gods, or cardboard characters, chopping down cherry trees and flying kites with strings and keys on them. It had this very affectionate familiarity; it wasn’t reverential. Adams, the outspoken delegate from Massachusetts, was chosen as the central character, and his quest to persuade all thirteen colonies to vote for independence became the central conflict.

Stone confined nearly all of the action to Independence Hall and the debate among the delegates, featuring only two female characters, Abigail Adams and Martha Jefferson, in the entire musical. After tryouts in New Haven and Washington, the show opened on Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre on March 16, 1969. Peter Hunt, previously known as lighting designer, directed Scene Three of 1776 holds the record for the longest time in a musical without a single note of music played or sung – over twenty minutes pass between “The Lees of Old Virginia” and “But Mr. Adams,” the next number.

On the DVD commentary, Peter Stone says that he experimented with adding various songs in this section, but nothing ever worked. During the scene, dubbed “Big Three” by cast members, musicians were allowed to leave the pit, reportedly the first time in Broadway history that they were permitted to do so in the middle of a show. Stone also notes that people often told him that, because of the subject matter and the large amount of dialogue, 1776 should have been a conventional play rather than a musical. Stone believes that the songs create a playful, irreverent tone that helps bring the historical characters to life.

Gary Cohen
Producing Director

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