Though the premiere at the American Repertory Theater was postponed following the coronavirus outbreak, that didn't stop the company of the Broadway-bound 1776 revival gathering on Zoom for a developmental workshop. The gender-inclusive production, a project from the Cambridge, Massachusetts regional venue and Roundabout Theatre Company, is still on track to open at Broadway's American Airlines Theatre in spring 2021.
The production will feature "multiple representations of gender, race, and ethnicity," according to Tony-winning director Diane Paulus. An earlier casting notice called for female, non-binary, and trans-identifying performers.
The company for the workshop is comprised of Nancy Anderson as George Read, Becca Ayers as Thomas McKean, Tiffani Barbour as Andrew McNair, Allison Blackwell as Robert Livingston, Hannah Cruz as James Wilson, Allyson Kaye Daniel as Abigail Adams and Rev. Jonathan Witherspoon, Elizabeth A. Davis as Thomas Jefferson, Mehry Eslaminia as Charles Thomson, Joanna Glushak as Stephen Hopkins, Shawna Hamic as Richard Henry Lee, Eryn Lecroy as Martha Jefferson and Dr. Lyman Hall, Crystal Lucas-Perry as John Adams, Liz Mikel as John Hancock, Patrena Murray as Benjamin Franklin, Kerry O'Malley as John Dickinson, Oneika Phillips as Joseph Hewes, Lulu Picart as Samuel Chase, Sara Porkalob as Edward Rutledge, Brooke Simpson as Roger Sherman, Salome Smith as the Courier, Sav Souza as Dr. Josiah Bartlett, and Jill Vallery as Caesar Rodney. Grace Stockdale and Imani Pearl Williams are standbys.
Featuring a book by Peter Stone and a score by Sherman Edwards, 1776 spans the two months ahead of the signing of the Declaration of Independence as John Adams persuades his fellow Founding Fathers to escape British rule, putting his own morality at stake.
The Paulus-helmed revival was set to initially play the A.R.T. this spring, followed by pre-Broadway engagements in Los Angeles, Houston, and Denver. The Cambridge run has been pushed to the 2020–2021 season, with no word yet on exact dates.
“I have been overwhelmed by the compassion, humanity, and unstoppable creativity expressed by our company of 1776 who have come together from across the country for our virtual workshop," says Paulus. "Their resilience has infused me with hope for the future of theatre amid this time of uncertainty.
“As we embark on our journey together on this production, we find ourselves reckoning with our country's history, reexamining the pivotal moment of our nation’s founding portrayed in 1776—the writing of the Declaration of Independence, a ‘promissory note,’ that, in Martin Luther King’s words ‘America has defaulted on.’ Our cast includes multiple representations of gender, race, and ethnicity that allow this revival of 1776 to more broadly reflect today’s America—our America. As artists, we are embracing our American history as a human predicament and are committed to the process of learning from the past in order to move forward together.”
The production will feature choreography by Jeffrey L. Page, sets by Scott Pask, costumes by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Jennifer Schriever, sound design by Jonathan Deans, projections by David Bengali, music supervision by David Chase, vocal design by AnnMarie Milazzo, and orchestrations by John Clancy. Nadia DiGiallonardo and Ryan Cantwell serve as co-music director. The stage management team is Sharika Niles, Genevieve Kersh, and John Meredith. Casting is by Stephen Kopel.