BWW Blog: James Beaman of Cape Playhouse's 1776 - Becoming John Adams

June 6
3:54 PM 2014
BWW Blog: James Beaman of Cape Playhouse's 1776 - Becoming John Adams

I am a research fanatic; I admit it. With each role I play I become my own dramaturge, digging around to learn everything I can about the source material of the play, the period it is set in... anything that will enable me to get inside the skin of the character. Years ago, I created a series of solo shows in which I played screen siren Marlene Dietrich. I felt a huge responsibility, as I attempted to embody such an iconic and distinctive star, to see every film, listen to every recording, and read every book in my quest to be as authentic as possible in my portrayal. With 1776 and John Adams, I am dealing with American history and one of our founding fathers...Talk about responsibility!

Obviously, the writers of 1776 did exhaustive research to fulfill the task of dramatizing one of the seminal moments in the history of the United States, and capturing the characters of the legendary people who lived it. Much of the dialogue of the play is extracted directly from personal letters and writings from those great men and women. And while my responsibility is to bring to life their vision of John Adams, I also feel I owe it to this man-this singular, passionate voice for American Independence who became our first Vice President and the second President of the United States-to know as much as I can about him, and to educate myself about the events leading up to the revolution, as well as the world he lived in: 18th century America. Fortunately, there's a ton of information available and Adams's personal diaries and letters have survived-a window into the mind and heart of the man.

In this week's video blog I share some of my sources and findings, which I hope will excite the interest of other performers, as well as history geeks like myself! I have also been having fun on Pinterest, assembling a board there of images, videos, and scraps of inspiration you might find interesting:

Ultimately, all this research is more than just academic; it's about charging up my imagination so I can find a window into the man I am playing and the world he lived in. It's the closest thing to time travel I know of!

BWW Blog: James Beaman of Cape Playhouse's 1776 - Becoming John Adams

About the Author

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Guest Blogger: James Beaman JAMES BEAMAN has played roles in nearly every stage genre, and is also an award winning cabaret artiste. He starred as Sir Robin in the First National Tour of Monty Python’s Spamalot,” performing nearly 700 performances alongside stars such as Richard Chamberlain, Gary Beach and John O’Hurley. An avid blogger, James blogged his entire adventure on the Spamalot tour. He has created roles in two new musicals, The Road To Qatar! (Off-Broadway, Original Cast Album) and Frog Kiss. Recent credits include Max in The Sound of Music (North Shore Music Theatre, IRNE Award nomination) and Milt in Laughter on the 23rd Floor (Flat Rock Playhouse). James has also performed with Goodspeed Musicals, The Kennedy Center, Ogunquit Playhouse, Stages St. Louis, and numerous Shakespeare Festivals. His cabaret acts have been awarded the MAC and Bistro Awards. James is also a coach for performers in New York City. This summer, he will play the iconic leading role of John Adams in 1776 at Cape Playhouse, opposite Tony nominee Christiane Noll. He then goes to Orlando Shakespeare Theatre to play Thénardier in Les Misérables. James received his training at The Shakespeare Theatre Company Academy for Classical Acting, and at Boston University School for the Arts. Visit him at