BWW Review: The Engeman's 1776
In seeing the Tony winning Sherman Edwards/Peter Stone musical 1776, we get an interesting account of the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration Of Independence. It is actually uncanny - and kind of funny - how this story still resonates today; petty arguing amongst congress and how divided "leaders" can be are emphasized in this production. Obviously we've come far since then but, at the same time, it seems not far at all.
Running through November 6th at Northport's dazzling John W. Engeman Theater, the large Igor Goldin directed cast is headed up strongly by Broadway vet Jamie LaVerdiere excellently portraying John Adams. The tale centers on Adams' efforts to convince his colleagues in Congress that the thirteen colonies should declare independence. This proves to be a challenging fete as his reputation as a nuisance - to say the least - precedes him; for the first number of the show, the cast sings to him "For God's Sake, John, Sit Down".
The entire cast is truly extraordinary. Highlights include David Studwell who makes a wonderful Benjamin Franklin and Michael Glavan who is superb as Thomas Jefferson. Additionally, an audience favorite is indeed a charming Jon Reinhold as Richard Henry Lee who gives a spirited performance of "The Lee's Of Old Virginia". And Jennifer Hope Wills, another Broadway alum portraying supportive wife Abigail Adams, gives a stunning performance of "Yours, Yours, Yours" with Mr. LaVerdiere. And special kudos to Matthew Rafanelli, portraying the Courier, whose rendition of "Momma Look Sharp" leaves the audience in tears.
As for Mr. Goldin's top-notch creative team, Stephen Dobay's set is outstanding. Majestic Greenish/Greyish walls encompass the stage with several tables for each delegation. The President Of Congress, John Handcock portrayed by Tom Lucca, presides on an elevated platform and above him is a tall board which indicates how each delegation has voted. This is enhanced cleverly by Cory Pattak's lighting design and Kurt Alger's costumes.
And so, 1776 is indeed another hit for the John W. Engeman Theatre's electrifying 10th season. A stellar, Broadway caliber cast and fascinating story make for a wonderful night of theatre.
1776 is presented by the John W. Engeman Theatre of Northport, Long Island, through November 6th. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 261-2900or visit www.engemantheater.com.
Score by Sherman Edwards, Book by Peter Stone, Directed by Igor Goldin (Off-Broadway: YANK!, With Glee, A Ritual of Faith, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Crossing Swords), Musical Direction by Eric Alsford (National Tours: Nunsense, Mamma Mia!, Off-Broadway: That's Life, I Love You You're Perfect..., Naked Boys Singing.), Scenic Design by Stephen Dobay, Costume & Wig Design by Kurt Alger, Lighting Design by Cory Pattak, Sound Design by Laura Shubert, Casting by Gayle Seay & Scott Wojcik of Wojcik/Seay Casting, Props Design by Kristie Moschetta, Stage Management by Sean Francis Patrick
Starring Jamie LaVerdiere (Broadway: The Producers, The Pirate Queen, Motown), David Studwell (Off Broadway: Applause! NY City Center Encores!), Michael Glavan, Benjamin Howes (Broadway: Scandalous, Mary Poppins), Tom Lucca, Jon Reinhold, Peter Saide, Jennifer Hope Wills (Broadway: Phantom of the Opera, Wonderful Town, The Woman in White, Beauty and the Beast), Robert Budnick, Jim DiMunno, Christopher Wynne Duffy, Gordon Gray, Andrew Hendrick, Kevin Robert Kelly, Philip Paul Kelly, Leer Leary, Rick Malone, Adriana Milbrath, Wayne J. Miller, Jake Mills, Adam Mosebach, Matthew Rafanelli, James D. Schultz, Stephen Valenti, and Doug Vandewinkel.
Photo by Michael DeCristofaro