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William Daniels and Lin-Manuel Miranda Riff on '1776' and HAMILTON

In light of the upcoming Encores! revival of Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone's Tony-winning musical 1776, New York City Center brought together original 1776 star William Daniels and Broadway's current most popular Founding Father, Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda, to talk about the over-arching themes and inspirations in both shows.

Most pressing things first: We learned at the beginning of the duo's exchange that Daniels' old dressing room at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (formerly the 46th Street Theatre) is either the Hamilton stage manager's office or George Washington's dressing room.

But on to deeper matters!

Discussing Edwards' difficulty in getting a historical musical produced back in the 1960s, Daniels said: "Sherman Edwards was a former schoolteacher from New Jersey, and he had written not just the songs, but the script. It was a little stiff; I remember thinking, We're in the middle of Vietnam, for Christ's sake, and they're waving the flag? I really had to be talked into doing it. At any rate, when the script came back to me, Peter Stone had taken ahold of it, and he'd gone back to the actual conversations in the Second Continental Congress. He had written them out on little cards and injected them into the script, and it made all the difference in the world. It added humor and conciseness and truth."

Miranda responded by saying, "I love that anecdote, because it gets at something that I discovered in writing Hamilton: the truth is invariably more interesting than anything a writer could make up. That Peter Stone went back to the texts written by these guys, who were petty, brilliant, compromised -- that's more interesting than any marble saints or plaster heroes you can create."

Now, because of the popularity of the 1776 film, "Every year on July 4th, I get all these letters saying, 'You've made us look at history in a different way,' Daniels said. "As a matter of fact, doing the show got me interested in history. I think that may be the connection with your show, Lin-Manuel. I can't think of a musical about American history coming before 1776."

Miranda replied, "I'll tell you, I think you're absolutely right. 1776 certainly paved the way for Hamilton -- not just in that it's about our founders, but also in that it engages fully with their humanity. I think it makes them accessible to us in a very real way...Someone said something really smart once: 'You kind of have to work hard to make this story boring.' My arc in learning about all this was actually similar to yours, Mr. Daniels, in that I didn't know anything about this era of history until I started writing it. And as I fell in love with the research, and these stories, I found that if you make the political personal, you can get away with putting in as much information as you want -- as long as it always has a personal angle, and they remain flesh-and-blood creatures. Once everyone starts spouting, then you're dead in the water."

1776 was the first full-scale Broadway musical ever to play the White House -- the place that saw the inception of Hamilton and this week welcomed the company back for a series of events. But 1776's appearance wasn't without controversy.

Talking about the experience, Daniels said: "It was a negotiation that took over a year, actually, because the Nixon Administration wanted us to cut 'Cool, Cool Conservative Men.' Because it was about them. (laughs)...Finally they allowed us to do the whole thing...At any rate, we did go, and performed in the East Room...[Nixon] stood next to Howard Da Silva and me. I think he inadvertently made an amusing remark, and when he got a laugh, then you couldn't stop him. It was a very memorable experience being there. Practically all of the Senate and the House came to see it, and at the end, they stood up and raved and carried on."

Read the entirety of Daniels' and Miranda's in-depth conversation here.

1776 -- in a new, multi-ethnic production -- begins at New York City Center on March 30. The musical is set in the halls of Congress, as the founding fathers battle out the question of independence and draft the declaration that will sever their ties to England and give birth to a new nation. Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, and their cohorts argue and grandstand through speeches and songs such as "Sit Down, John," "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men," and "He Plays the Violin."

HAMILTON opened on Broadway last summer and is currently running at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. From bastard orphan to Washington's right hand man, rebel to war hero, loving husband caught in the country's first sex scandal to Treasury head who made an untrusting world believe in the American economy, HAMILTON (played by Lin-Manuel Miranda) is an exploration of a political mastermind. George Washington (Christopher Jackson), Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs), Eliza Hamilton (Phillipa Soo), and lifelong Hamilton friend and foe, Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom, Jr.), all attend this revolutionary tale of America's fiery past told through the sounds of the ever-changing nation we've become. Tony Award nominee Thomas Kail directs this new musical about taking your shot, speaking your mind, and turning the world upside down.

Image via New York City Center's website.

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