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‘1776’ shows the humanity of founding fathers

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By Sara Miller

In the wake of a tempestuous election season, it’s comforting and inspiring to reflect upon the beginnings of our nation. The Evergreen Chorale, in its latest production of the musical “1776,” provides us with the opportunity to travel back in time to witness the fights, debates and compromises that led to the founding of our country. The show also reminds us that one can always find much humor in the serious business of creating and running a country.

“A lot of historical documentation puts our forefathers on a pedestal,” says director Ben Coffey. “ ‘1776’ represents them as living, breathing human beings — warts and all. You get to meet the obnoxious and disliked John Adams. Audiences will see that these were 25 guys that spent every day together. They weren’t untouchable; they were just men struggling with the most important issues of their time.”

The show, written in 1969, is a musical that revolves around the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Audiences will meet John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and delegates from all 13 colonies. The production brings to life some of the obstacles that our founding fathers faced in separating from England.

“It’s a very human story,” Coffey says. “You get to see how all of the details got sorted out in route to signing this famous document. The show delves into how these men had to compromise, how every individual had his struggle.”

In the midst of all the struggle and turmoil was quite a bit of humor. When two dozen men spend every day sealed in a room together, moments of locker-room comedy are bound to ensue. It is these moments that add a warm-hearted joviality to the serious business of forging a new nation.

Many critics have said that if American history were taught in school with as much fire and zest as audiences find in “1776,” we would all be far more deeply familiar with the story of our nation’s birth. Nothing could be more authentic than the moment when the actors first gather on the set of the Assembly Room in Independence Hall. From the fife and drums overture to ballads such as “Yours, Yours, Yours,” which reveals the love between John and Abigail Adams, the music and singing, under the direction of the Evergreen Chorale’s artistic director, Christine Gaudreau, will transport audiences to another time.

“What I enjoy most as the director and as a member of the Evergreen Chorale is that the action on stage is driven by faces that we’ve seen many times,” Coffey says. “Many of the forefathers of the Evergreen Chorale are portraying the forefathers of our nation. Familiar faces such as Gary Muse, Anne and Robert Dickert, Tom Scripps and Frank Plaut are portraying these famous leaders. We also have a few new faces as well, and it’s always exciting to integrate the first-timers into the Chorale.”

The actors, as well as the show, are full of passion, excitement, humor and drama. “1776” shows the Continental Congress as people with strengths and flaws — just like the leaders in our political landscape today. The stress and struggle of creating a new nation under trying conditions prove to be a timely topic whether the year is 1776 or 2013. Now, if only today’s politicians would break into a little song and dance every so often.

For more information or to order tickets, visit www.evergreenchorale.orgor call 303-674-4002.

 

‘1776’
Presented by the Evergreen Chorale
Feb. 15 through March 3

All Performances at Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive
Friday and Saturday Performances at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinees at 3 p.m.
Tickets: $21 for adults; $17 for seniors (62 and older); $17 for students (age 13 through college); $14 for children (12 and younger)
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.evergreenchorale.orgor call 303-674-4002.