1776 Brings History Alive to the Stage at the A.R.T

5/5 Falcons

Kat Triantafyllou, Contributing Writer

The world premiere of the Tony-Award winning musical 1776 is a must-see for all history enthusiasts. Written by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone, and co-presented by the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) and the Roundabout Theater Company, this play looks at history from an unprecedented lens, especially from the interesting take on history as a “predicament.” Co-directed by the A.R.T.’s Terrie and Bradley Bloom, Artistic Director Diane Paulus, and Jeffrey L. Page, 1776 brings to the stage the contours of the Declaration of Independence. Reconsidering this transformative moment in American history, the musical sheds a new light on race, gender, and ethnicity through a diverse and talented cast and unique production choices. For example, the show incorporates a scene in which Abigail Adams urges her husband, John Adams, to “Remember the Ladies,” while creating the framework for a new nation that puts women at the forefront, something that resonates with today’s current events.
In the play, John Adams passionately attempts to persuade his fellow members of the Continental Congress to vote in favor of American independence and sign the Declaration through discussions of the key ideas: independence and freedom. Of course, it isn’t always easy to find a compromise when it comes to the pursuit of freedom.

Recognizing this transformative moment in American history, the musical sheds a new light on race, gender, and ethnicity.

The chaos of the year 1776 is truly well depicted through the angry debates between each state’s representatives and the ephemeral conversations between characters that so intrinsically resemble many aspects of today’s insecure times. The members of congress did not think anyone would recognize them hundreds of years later, because after all, these people were simply sitting in a room together, empowering themselves and each other to attain freedom. The A.R.T.’s program so aptly describes this by saying that “they knew they would make history, but not what history would make of them.”
The music, singing, lighting, and set were weaved together with intentionality and purpose. Its mesmerizing results capture the audience’s attention, making the play all the more entertaining and informative. The essence of 1776 is truly and honestly captured, while mirroring today’s reality.
This “electrifying,” “not your (founding) fathers’ 1776” show, as described by WBUR, runs from May 17th to July 24th, 2022 at the Loeb Drama Center.

This piece also appears in our June 2022 print edition.