Q&A re: 1776
A question-and-answer style overview of our upcoming season. If you have questions that aren’t answered here, you know how to reach us. Don’t hesitate to email (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
So, what’s up with this season? Why these shows?
We strive to give the students of PV Theatre a varied experience over the course of their four years in the program, building different skills with different shows. It is time to focus on acting and text. This is a dialogue-heavy season because we know you are ready for big-time acting challenges and serious chunks of text.
We also choose shows based on what we know about what’s going on behind the scenes around PV Theatre. With construction ongoing in the music wing, our use of our typical rehearsal, performance, building, and work spaces will be very limited. We have chosen a fall play that can be staged creatively, not necessarily relying solely on the stage for playing space. We have chosen a spring musical on which we can do significant work without being on the set or in space that approximates it.
Wait, go back to “big-time acting challenges” and “serious chunks of text.” That sounds like a lot of work.
It will be.
But I do theatre to have fun!
It will be. Keep reading.
Okay, assuming I survive Shakespeare and make it to the musical, what is going on with that?
Oh! We’re doing 1776!
Uh-huh. I know. WHY?
You are a talented bunch of singers and dancers whose skills in those areas keep improving with every musical you do. But you are largely untested actors. 1776 has arguably the richest script of any Broadway musical. It will give literally dozens of you chances to have shining moments of acting greatness. You will learn a tremendous amount about acting from this show, about the pacing and flow of a scene and what it feels like when moments between characters really click onstage. Also, the music is gorgeous, all the characters are vivid and fun to play, and we can do it on a unit set that we will have time to build even if construction in the music wing doesn’t finish up on schedule.
Is it like Hamilton?
YES! It humanizes historical figures and reveals them to be much funnier, more flawed, and more fearful than the history books would ever show. It gives a rarely-seen view of our nation at the time of its founding. It uses historical fact in fictionalized way to tell terrific stories.
Do we get to rap?
That’s probably just as well. So I don’t know this show at all. What’s the best way to get to know it?
WATCH. THE. MOVIE. We cannot recommend this highly enough. Three years after the Broadway production premiered, almost the entire original cast was brought in to make the film version. It is very faithful to the story and most of the script is the same as the script of the stage version. The film will give you a sense of the vivid characters, the awesome dialogue, and the emotional highs and lows of the storytelling. It is a masterpiece. It is also 3 hours long, so plan your time accordingly.
And it cuts verses of songs. The show runs about the same. If it’s done right, it flies by. Plus -- and we know this is hard to believe -- it’s suspenseful! There’s a terrific series of little twists at the end that leave you really unsure whether the freakin’ declaration is going to get adopted and signed. We all know it will, but this show keeps things looking legitimately dicey until the last ten minutes or so.
Okay, that’s pretty cool. But I don’t have three hours and I want to know what this show is about.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1776_(musical) Wikipedia again. But if you’re going to watch the movie, don’t read this first! Enjoy watching the story unfold. This page does have a nice accounting of the show’s historical inaccuracies, if you’re interested.
I’m gonna watch it. Maybe if we get a bunch of us together to watch it, that would be fun.
Go for it! The Lupfers, Mr. M., and Kelsey got together to watch it in July. It was fun. If you really want to make the most of the experience, consider jotting down your questions and reactions as you watch. It could be helpful to the creation of our production to know what your responses were as you were taking it all in.
Watched it. Good movie! But...there were two dozen men in it and only two (2!) women!!!!
Truth. But not a problem. Often when it is done in school settings, 1776 is cast gender-blind. The male roles will be played as men, and the female roles will be played as women, but the genders of the performers are irrelevant to their casting. Because they have a scene of physical intimacy, we will probably look to cast Thomas Jefferson and his wife Martha with performers of the characters’ genders. Even that is not set in stone, however. The casting of this musical, even more than any we’ve done before, will be about the best fit of performer to role.
Does that really work?
MTI, the licensing agency for the show, certainly thinks so. Check out this video they posted on YouTube about doing 1776 in a high school setting with gender-blind casting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMUteQYZKtM
Actually, MTI has a terrific playlist of videos about this show: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF9004F38159EDBF0
This show doesn’t seem to have as many production numbers as other musicals we’ve done.
Or as much music.
Well observed. This is not to say that the music isn’t terrific (it is!) or challenging (it IS), but there is less of it to focus on. It is our hope that you will find music rehearsals more engaging because this score cuts down on the amount of time you spend sitting around waiting for other people to sing. If you’re singing in a number, you’re busy. Admittedly, traditional musical theatre dance is pretty much absent. However, movement is an important part of the acting of these roles, and there is a great deal that can be done with staging of the musical numbers -- including the addition of more challenging dance in some places. And when else are you going to learn to minuet, huh?
In our research, we’re discovering that some productions have taken big leaps away from the traditional, straightforward approach to staging some of these numbers. We are letting that influence our ideas about how our production might look, though no final decisions have been made yet regarding musical staging.
Are we going to have a good time doing this show?
You really, really are. This show has been on our list as a possibility for years. We are so excited that this is the year we finally get to do it! We love this piece, and we know you’ll love it too.