Review Roundup: New Repertory Theatre's Gender-Bent Production Of 1776

Review Roundup: New Repertory Theatre's Gender-Bent Production Of 1776New Rep Theatre in Massachusetts's gender-bent production of 1776 is now on stage! The production is set to run at the Mosesian Center for the Arts through December 23rd.

The production will feature Rachel Belleman as Stephen Hopkkins, Aimee Doherty as John Dickinson, Benjamin Evett as John Addams, Ricardo D. Holguin as James Wilson, Shannon Lee Jones as Edward Rutledge, Liliane Klein as Thomas McKean, Steven Martin as Courier, Luis Negron as Charles Thomson, Gary Thomas Ng as Caesar Rodney/Andry McNair, Piuer Lamia Porter as Richard Henry Lee, KP Powell as Thomas Jefferson, Dan Prior as Martha Jefferon/Robert Livingston, Carolyn Saxon as Abigail Adams/Roger Sherman, Cheryl D. Singleton as John Hancock, Felton Sparks as John Witherspoon, and Bobbie Steinbach as Benjamin Franklin.

The production is co-directed by Austin Pendleton and Kelli Edwards, and featured music direction by Todd C. Gordon, scenic design by Cristina Todesco, costume design by Rachel Padula-Shufelt, and lighting design by Alberto Segarra.

1776 takes place during a long hot summer in Philadelphia, and the Continental Congress is an exhausted, annoyed, quarrelsome collection of men, at each other's throats over the burning question of independence from Great Britain. John Adams, the passionate crusader for rebellion, races against time: if the congress does not agree to throw off the yoke of tyranny, General Washington's painfully outnumbered army will have no ideal for which to fight. But Adams is obnoxious and disliked -- no one will listen to his arguments.

They might have a chance if Thomas Jefferson, that silver wordsmith, would write a Declaration -- but Jefferson, frustrated by his long absence from lovely wife Martha, is in no mood to be creative. And when it comes down to a final decision, the course of history hangs on whether sycophantic Judge James Wilson can remain as anonymous as possible with his vote.....

Under these conditions, how will America ever achieve Independence? Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards' 1776 is a brilliant imagining of American history, a grand tale which manages to feel both intimate and epic at once, bringing humor and humanity to the account of twenty men, three months, and one incredible argument, in which the fate of nations is decided. The score features such famous tunes as the romantic "He Plays the Violin," the comedic "The Lees of Old Virginia," and that plaintive memorial to young patriots, "Momma, Look Sharp."

Now in its fourth decade, New Repertory Theatre has established itself as one of the Boston area's premiere theatre companies. Celebrated for electrifying, compelling, and poignant productions, New Rep plays reflect our world and community, and regularly explore ideas that have vital resonance in our lives, here and now. New Rep shows are provocative, intelligent, and entertaining.

Historically, New Rep's most successful productions have been probing, thought-provoking shows centered on big ideas. Examples include Imagining Madoff, The Whipping Man, The Kite Runner, Cherry Docs, Opus, The Pillowman, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Topdog/Underdog, Quills, and No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs. Other successful shows have included some of the most beloved and Popular Productions such as The King of Second Avenue, Assassins, Camelot, Amadeus, Long Day's Journey into Night, Speed-the-Plow, According to Tip, The Clean House, Ragtime, Into the Woods, The Threepenny Opera, Sweeney Todd, and Waiting for Godot. New Rep's programming has been awarded many Boston area theatre awards including 24 Elliot Norton Awards and 48 Independent Reviewers of New England Awards.

New Repertory Theatre is committed to bringing new works to the stage. Since 1984, New Rep has produced 73 East Coast, New England, Boston, or World Premieres, including works by Robert Brustein, Ronan Noone, Zayd Dohrn, Walt McGough, Deb Margolin, Matthew Lopez, Theresa Rebeck, Sarah Ruhl, Thomas Gibbons, Athol Fugard, Suzan-Lori Parks, Michael Weller, Dael Orlandersmith, J.T. Rogers, Joyce Van Dyke, Doug Wright, and Steve Yockey. New Rep is a core member in the National New Play Network (NNPN), an alliance of not-for-profit professional theatres that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays for the American theatre.

Since 2005, New Repertory Theatre has been the professional theatre company in residence at the Mosesian Center for the Arts (formerly the Arsenal Center for the Arts) in Watertown, Massachusetts. Complete with two performance spaces, the 340-seat MainStage Theater and the 90-seat BlackBox Theater, the MCA has allowed New Rep to expand and enhance its programming.

Since the benefits of the arts reach far beyond the walls of the theatre, New Rep has created educational programs to enrich and foster the spirit of creativity in students. New Rep's Classic Repertory Company tours professional caliber productions throughout Massachusetts, with a special emphasis on bringing underserved communities affordable, or even free, performances. Annually, Classic Repertory Company reaches over 14,000 students.

Through our productions in both the MainStage Theater and the BlackBox Theater, our touring Classic Repertory Company and other special programming, New Rep has defined itself as a major organization contributing to the arts and cultural landscape of greater Boston.

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Let's see what the critics have to say!

Don Aucoin, Boston Globe: With so heavily populated a show and its focus so diffuse, it's hard for an individual performer to stand out, but two manage to do so. Carolyn Saxon endows Abigail Adams with a playfully luminous personality that glows throughout her duets with Evett ("Till Then'' and "Yours, Yours, Yours''). Steven Martin, portraying a courier from Watertown (where the New Rep is located), delivers a spine-shivering rendition of "Momma Look Sharp,'' a ballad sung by a mortally wounded young soldier whose mother is searching for him on the battlefield.

Iris Fanger, Daily News: Solos that stop the show are delivered by the foot soldier of the Continental Army, Steven Martin, in the poignant "Mama Look Sharp," and the fiery indictment of the North's complicity in the slave trade, "Molasses to Rum," punched out by Shannon Lee Jones as Rutledge, representative from South Carolina.

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