Friday, August 31, 2007
But Mr. Adams
leave me alone! Saw 1776 twice on Thurs-
day. It's quite a fine performance lead by the riveting James Brennan, wonderful as ever as the "obnoxious and disliked" John Adams. John Schuck is endearing as Ben Franklin. Matthew Ashford plays a full-blooded, in every sense of the word, Jefferson. John Scherer is a self-possessed and ever confident Richard Henry Lee, and Mark Zimmerman does a masterful turn as John Dickenson.
James Barbour renders Molasses to Rum to Slaves in as fine a fashion as you'd ever want to hear. Just wish his acting in the role had a more aristocratic bent to it than it has. Somehow he's managed to imbue the stately Mr. Rutledge with a cross between Wiley Coyote and a sleazy imitation of Clark Gable playing Rhett Butler. Oh well, his singing was superb.
Teri Bibb presents a most authentic Abigail Adams and comes across as a high spirited and supportive wife, and is a feisty complement to John's fiery temperment. Bets Malone is the best Martha Jefferson I've seen. Too often the role is played by someone who seems air-headed. This Martha was elegant, graceful and witty with just the right amount of flirtatiousness which made you understand Thomas Jefferson's slightly melancholic attitude. It's only after Adams sends for Martha that Jefferson can complete writing the Declaration of Independence.
The Sacramento audiences are some of the best audiences you'll find. It's fun to listen to the preshow and intermission chatter. Both men and women will say to one and other things like "Isn't that so and so we saw in...?" and they will be right! Music Circus has been around for over 50 years and the audiences really know their theatre. In contrast to some places, the men seem to enjoy it as much as their wives.
This show resonates because it depicts events that directly affect all Americans to this day. It manages to convey the seriousness of purpose which our founding fathers had, and yet maintains a sense of balance by its vivid characterizations. The score is excellent and the dialogue engagingly witty.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Please Mr. Dickinson, but must you start banging? How is a man to sleep?
[laughter from Congress]
John Dickinson: Forgive me, Dr. Franklin, but must YOU start speaking? How is a man to stay awake?
John Dickinson: We'll promise to be quiet - I'm sure everyone prefers that you remained asleep.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: If I'm to hear myself called an Englishman, sir, I assure you I prefer I'd remained asleep.
John Dickinson: What's so terrible about being called an Englishman? The English don't seem to mind.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Nor would I, were I given the full rights of an Englishman. But to call me one without those rights is like calling an ox a bull. He's thankful for the honor, but he'd much rather have restored what's rightfully his.
John Dickinson: When did you first notice they were missing, sir?
(Click here for more photos and photo credits.)