BWW Blog: James Beaman of Cape Playhouse's 1776 - The Adams Papers, Part Two

June 23
7:08 AM 2014
BWW Blog: James Beaman of Cape Playhouse's 1776 - The Adams Papers, Part Two

My visit to the Massachusetts Historical Society was so fascinating that I had to devote two vlog posts to it! Librarian Peter Drummey and his colleague Sara Georgini know as much about the show 1776 as they do about the true history and the real John Adams. And they have great affection for the musical, pointing out some of the departures from the true story the writers took in creating a dramatically pleasing piece of theatre.

I was especially interested in whether or not John Adams was as 'obnoxious and disliked' as he is portrayed in 1776. It was fascinating to learn that this characterization was one Adams assigned to himself, many years later when he was writing his autobiography. Well into his seventies at that point, and still embittered from the vicious campaign in which he lost in his bid for a second term as president, it's clear that Adams saw himself as an unpopular guy in the congress of 1776. There's no doubt that he was the most outspoken proponent of independence and that he harangued his fellow representatives relentlessly. But he was also known by many as the "Colossus of the Congress," respected and admired for his contribution to American liberty.

What emerges from the letters and documents I saw at the Historical Society is a portrait of a man who was single-minded, passionate about his cause, well aware of his deficiencies and highly critical of himself and others. In short, he cared deeply-and fortunately for us, he refused to give up until our country had gained its independence and won the war with Great Britain. While I hope to do justice to the irascible and argumentative character Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards wrote, I want to bring the soulfulness, the passion and the love that clearly were at the heart of the real John Adams. For more information on the amazing collections at the Massachusetts Historical Society visit:, where you can view digital images of many of the Adams papers!

As this post goes out there, I am beginning rehearsals at last for 1776. I look forward to sharing some behind-the-scenes looks at the production as we rehearse in New York and then bring the show to the beautiful Cape Playhouse on Cape Cod! You can bring yourself up to speed on all the posts of "Becoming John Adams" by checking out the playlist I created on YouTube:

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