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What with Elizabeth Warren's debate tonight on CSPAN and Obama's debate on Wednesday, also on CSPAN (for those of us without cable, the streaming version is the way to go), I thought tonight I would turn to a political bit of theatricality.

Yes, 1776 the musical.  This first clip is sheer hilarity (from the movie version), casting Ben Franklin as Svengali:

Info about the show (and more clips) below the fleur-de-kos:

Sherman Edwards, a singer of pop-songs with several top ten hits in the late fifties and early sixties, spent several years developing lyrics and libretto for a musical based on the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Edwards recounted that, "I wanted to show [the founding fathers] at their outermost limits. These men were the cream of their colonies... They disagreed and fought with each other. But they understood commitment, and though they fought, they fought affirmatively."[2] Producer Stuart Ostrow recommended that librettist Peter Stone collaborate with Edwards on the book of the musical. Stone recalled, "The minute you heard ["Sit Down, John"], you knew what the whole show was.... You knew immediately that John Adams and the others were not going to be treated as gods, or cardboard characters, chopping down cherry trees and flying kites with strings and keys on them. It had this very affectionate familiarity; it wasn't reverential."[2] Adams, the outspoken delegate from Massachusetts, was chosen as the central character, and his quest to persuade all thirteen colonies to vote for independence became the central conflict.
http://en.wikipedia.org/...

"Sit Down, John":

"He Plays the Violin" starring Martha Jefferson:

The Do-Nothing Congress:

The Vote (Franklin still in Svengali mode):

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hope you enjoy these clips. (11+ / 0-)

    They do shed a bit of light on historic problems that never seem to go away vis a vis this nation's inability to get along -- well, that's how I read the show anyway.

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 01:57:10 PM PDT

  •  My favorite musical! (5+ / 0-)

    I was in a production the summer of 1976. And just like the show, it was "hot as hell" with "too many flies" in our rehersal room upstairs at the local YMCA.

    I played a distant relative of mine, Samuel Chase of Maryland.

    I believe that "Mama, Look Sharp" is one of the most beautiful songs ever created.

  •  Absolutely love this musical! (3+ / 0-)

    We have the DVD of the film and have seen it performed live at the 5th Ave. theater in Seattle. Our daughter loves it, too, and has spread the love to her friends. Yes, it does take some liberties with the facts but it's not presenting itself as an historical template. There is enough here to spark one's interest - which is what it did for me all those years ago.

    I own a copy of the book and there is a section in the back that speaks to the poetic license the authors took as compared to the facts. One in particular struck me - Adams' comment about giving in on the slavery issue. In the play he makes a general comment about it being a problem down the road. In reality he said that if they gave in on it, "... there will be trouble 100 years hence." Such a prescient observation that the authors were worried they would be accused of making it up. So they generalized it.

    I love John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and that is mostly due to this play. It made me find out more about them as human beings. This play presents them as such and, for that, we should be grateful.

    Thank your stars you're not that way/Turn your back and walk away/Don't even pause and ask them why/Turn around and say 'goodbye'/Just wish them well.....

    by Purple Priestess on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 05:27:09 PM PDT

  •  I had never heard of this show until now. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, penguins4peace, efrenzy

    It's of great interest to me for several reasons. First, I've been involved in musical theatre off and on since high school. Second, I've written a stage play set in the exact same period telling the story of those days in our local area (Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia) which will be hitting the boards next summer. Third, I'm currently doing research on a further play (not exactly a musical but it will have musical elements) set in Halifax, NS in the same period as well.

    1776 is certainly an inspiration to me now. I played all your clips and I can feel a few ideas gelling already. Thanks!

    -8.38, -7.74 My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton

    by Wreck Smurfy on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 05:52:31 PM PDT

    •  You're welcome! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wreck Smurfy

      Be sure to YT your production so we can sample it here!

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 05:55:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, stage productions don't film well, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Youffraita, penguins4peace

        IMO, so tend to avoid doing that. But the writer doesn't necessarily have a say about such things, so if a video is made, I will (reluctantly) post it.

        -8.38, -7.74 My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton

        by Wreck Smurfy on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:26:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wreck Smurfy
          stage productions don't film well
          There are some terrific ones on YT but mostly they're professionally filmed -- think "Great Performances."  The ones taped by amateurs with phones aren't so great.

          To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

          by Youffraita on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:48:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Professionally is the key. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Youffraita

            Even with good quality equipment, the videographers have to know their stuff, and it's highly unlikely they do in these parts, given past experience. But I might be pleasantly surprised.

            -8.38, -7.74 My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton

            by Wreck Smurfy on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:23:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  In the spirit of 1776, a tribute (3+ / 0-)

    to our closest allies:  Duelling national anthems:

    And a nose-in-the-mud to all GOPers who would deny whom were our enemies back then, and who were our friends:

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:00:29 PM PDT

    •  Magnifique! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Youffraita

      I'd never heard Mathieu's version before. Extradordinaire! What a voice.

      Also, "Der Wacht am Rhein" wasn't the German national anthem, per se, but it was a widely held patriotic song among the Nazis, so close enough.

      -8.38, -7.74 My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton

      by Wreck Smurfy on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:42:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OMG, she makes me (0+ / 0-)

        sing along every time...and I don't even know all the words.

        To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

        by Youffraita on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:16:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I saw a production of 1776 in Long Beach, CA. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, penguins4peace

    William Daniels played John Adams, and did an even better job than in the movie.

    My only remaining acting ambition (I did play Mrs. Cratchitt in a production of A Christmas Carol) is to play Abigail Adams in 1776.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:11:54 PM PDT

    •  That would be awesome... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      penguins4peace, loggersbrat

      be sure to have someone do a good tape so we can show the production here at Theatricals.  ;-)

      Seriously, Abigail Adams must have been one hell of a woman, and I bet the part is a meaty one.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:18:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Love this show! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, penguins4peace

    American tradition reveres Washington, Jefferson and Franklin; this show is pretty much the first attempt to humanize John Adams.

    I'll pick Sit Down John as the most entertaining song, Molasses to Rum to Slaves as the best music (the song about the triangle trade is of course in 3/4 time!), and Is Anybody There as my favorite song. It's amazing to realize that those are his words; what a visionary!

    "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

    by esquimaux on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:29:49 PM PDT

  •  "Molasses to Rum" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita

    I find the lyrics to "Molasses to Rum" haunting:

    Molasses to rum to slaves, oh what a beautiful waltz
    You dance with us, we dance with you
    Molasses and rum and slaves

    Who sails the ships out of Boston
    Ladened with bibles and rum?
    Who drinks a toast to the Ivory Coast?
    Hail Africa, the slavers have come
    New England with bibles and rum

    And its off with the rum and the bibles
    Take on the slaves, clink, clink
    Hail and farewell to the smell
    Of the African coast

    Molasses to rum to slaves
    'Tisn't morals, 'tis money that saves
    Shall we dance to the sound of the profitable pound
    In molasses and rum and slaves

    Who sails the ships out of Guinea
    Ladened with bibles and slaves?
    'Tis Boston can coast to the West Indies coast
    Jamaica, we brung what ye craves
    Antigua, Barbados, we brung bibles and slaves!

    Molasses to rum to slaves
    Who sail the ships back to Boston
    Ladened with gold, see it gleam
    Whose fortunes are made in the triangle trade
    Hail slavery, the New England dream!
    Mr. Adams, I give you a toast:
    Hail Boston! Hail Charleston!
    Who stinketh the most?

  •  Saw the stage version when I was a kid. (3+ / 0-)

    It was the first post-Broadway national tour, and one of the first national tours of anything I ever saw. Really good throughout, but I most remember the scrim with Trumbull's famous painting on it that dissolved into real actors on stage (or vice versa). Great stagecraft :-)

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:39:32 PM PDT

    •  There's just something (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slksfca

      about live theater...it's really special.

      When my friend took me to see Noises Off a couple of years ago, he got us seats in the second row.  TOO close!  But for musicals with big production numbers, I'm all about the nosebleed seats, where you can see the whole stage at once, and all the brilliant choreography.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:44:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another bit of trivia on the first clip; (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    penguins4peace, Youffraita

    Ron Holgate, the actor playing Richard Henry Lee, had never ridden a horse before he filmed this scene. The only moment that's not actually him riding is the trick mount at the end, which was performed by a stand-in.

    Howard DaSilva (Ben Franklin) was also a key performer in "Fiorello!" a musical based on the life of Fiorello LaGuardia; his ward-boss character's name was also Ben (Marino).

    "The truth will set you free...but first it'll piss you off." - Gloria Steinem

    by Sharoney on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:27:14 PM PDT

  •  I had the considerable honor (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita

    of playing the role of John Hancock in a (rather good) production of this show.  

    It was easily the most moving of the many roles I've had.  It was difficult to keep the tears inside at the end when the (Liberty) bell rang in a great crescendo as the roll of signers was called.

    The American Indian: Fighting Foreign Terrorism Since 1492.

    by penguins4peace on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:36:49 PM PDT

    •  Oh, fiction! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      penguins4peace

      Lol, I kid: as someone subjected to PA history her entire life, I was always taught that the first time they tried to ring the liberty bell, it cracked.

      And having seen the damn thing every time we went to Philly (only 60 miles away) I have seen the crack.

      Frankly, the museum of art and the zoo are much better reasons to visit Philly.  That bell is just stupid.

      Philly has some good restaurants and bookstores.  But the art museum is also excellent.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:36:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I rather enjoyed one Philly sports writer's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Youffraita

        (Dick Schaap, maybe?) jibe that on July 4, 1776 the Clerk of the Continental Congress came out on the steps of Independence Hall and read the Declaration to an assembled group of Philadelphians, who promptly booed.

        My daughter and her husband live in Philly, so I get there often.  I love the art museum!  And here's an unsolicited shameless plug for my favorite oasis, the South Philly Tap Room!

        The American Indian: Fighting Foreign Terrorism Since 1492.

        by penguins4peace on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 07:47:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My parents used to take me (0+ / 0-)

          to Philly often enough that I feel like the art museum is "mine."

          I haven't been there in decades, now, although I'd like to go back soon.  But some of the paintings in the permanent collection are fond childhood memories.

          To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

          by Youffraita on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 06:35:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I saw the first national touring company (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    efrenzy, Youffraita

    of the Broadway cast at Merriwether Post Pavillion ... in the suburbs of DC. The audience was heavi-Lee stocked with folks working for, with, or around Congress, and virtuall-Lee every crack about Congress' slowness to act was gleefull-Lee received, rather raucous-Lee.

    It was a helluva night. My republican father, of a type (Nelson Rockefeller) no longer existent, was mild-Lee apoplectic. Good times!

    I have loved this show ever since.

    A bit about Howard Da Silva, courtesy IMDB.org:

    Originally was a steelworker before making his stage debut at age 20 in New York. He made a name for himself on Broadway before going to Hollywood, but kept up his stage work after making the move to films. His most memorable performance came in the 1943 Broadway production of Oklahoma! in which he played Jud Fry. In Hollywood, he became a well-liked character actor, appearing in such films as Sergeant York (1941), The Big Shot (1942) and The Lost Weekend (1945)

    (snip...)

    Howard da Silva was one of 324 actors, writers and directors who fell victim to the Hollywood blacklisting of the early 1950s, and had his career halted in the blink of an eye. he was investigated by the FBI as member of the Communist Party and was subpoenaed to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He testified on March 21, 1951 and was the first witness from Hollywood to invoke the Fifth Amendment objecting to being called to testify against himself.

    Frankly, this makes his performance as Ben Franklin all the more remarkab-Lee memorable.

    In times like these, we cannot make too much music.

    by ProvokingMeaning on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:25:51 PM PDT

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