BWW Blog: James Beaman of Cape Playhouse's 1776 - Philadelphia Part 1

BWW Blog: James Beaman of Cape Playhouse's 1776 - Philadelphia Part 1

Anyone who is a fan of the film version of "1776" has marveled at how brilliantly they replicated Independence Hall in Philadelphia with the sets they built in Hollywood. That authenticity of setting just adds to the 'you are there' feeling of history the film gives, while providing an excellent record of the original Broadway production of the show. Since the real Independence Hall still stands in Philadelphia, I thought it would be great to take a day trip to the City of Brotherly Love and visit it and some other sites that feature in the story of the play and might give me a sense of place and period.

Early on a Wednesday morning, my friends Ed and Bobby, who volunteered to help me shoot the video, joined me for the bus ride to Philly. When we arrived we went straight to the Independence Park Visitor Center to grab three tickets for a tour of Independence Hall; alas, we were too late. All the tickets for the day had been distributed. Not to be deterred, we dashed over to the Hall and got in line behind a bus full of 5th graders on their way in. When we reached the ranger taking tickets, I laid it on thick, explaining that we didn't have tickets, but I was playing John Adams in "1776" and we were only there for a day... this did the trick, and we were allowed to join the tour! Thank you, Mr. Adams.

I have to say I got some goosebumps when I entered that famous chamber where the Congress gathered that sweltering hot summer of 1776. It was a great thing to just get a sense of the space and to feel the vibe of the building. The chamber is much smaller than one imagines, and it is even further reduced in size by a railing across the front of the room which allows a crowd of tourists to view it. It really made it real for me that I will be recreating, via the imaginations of Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards, a piece of American history.

In the next post, our Philly adventure continues with several other stops around town! Little pockets of the 18th century still exist in the city and it was fun to seek them out. See you next time!

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