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This new Kennedy Center production of the Tony Award–winning musical reexamines a pivotal moment in American history with a cast that reflects multiple representations of race, gender, and ethnicity.

1776, now at the Kennedy Center, is about history told in a fun way with great actors and a wonderful creative team. The musical hopes to have you think about what it took at the Continental Congress for two dozen powerfully passionate, exceedingly complicated, and all-too-human individuals, the representatives of the thirteen original states, to come to any agreement. Those men, all men at the time, held the very future of a nation in their hands? 1776 won the Tony Award for Best Musical when it was first produced.

This exciting new production is directed by the very talented Jeffrey L. Page and Diane Paulus. Their talent and vision bring it to life in a very different way. The spoken word and the songs resonate in a whole new way. There is both passion and humor abounding. They have written “We invite you, the audience, to hold multiple realities at once: both this historical narrative and the identities of this company of artists alive in 2023. In this production, we find other faces, other voices, other perspectives, on our American history.”

Gisela Andisa, Nancy Anderson, Liz Mikel
Gisela Andisa, Nancy Anderson, Liz Mikel  Photo by Joan Marcus

To do this one must understand the cast is multiracial, female, transgender, and non-binary actors who portray the fiery founders of this country. They have managed to put a totally human spin on history which is what makes it so exciting. While there are too many in the superb cast to mention all of them, one standout is Gisela Adisa (she/her) as (John Adams). She has the chance to display her wide acting talents, and then beautiful voice in a duet of Till Then with wonderfully talented Brooke Simpson (she/her) as (Abigail Adams). Then there is Liz Mikel (she/her) as (Benjamin Franklin) also multi-talented and a joy to watch. Nancy Anderson (she/her) as (Thomas Jefferson) the author of the Declaration of Independence is perfect in the role. Connor Lyon (she/her) as (Martha Jefferson) gets an opportunity to showcase her beautiful voice in He Plays the Violin.  Again, the entire cast is wondrous to see, all incredibly talented actors and each lending to the total success of the production. 

The staging of this production is simple but great. The entire creative team adds to the fun of the evening and the background in which the actors can truly shine. Set designer, Scott Pask; costume designer, Emilio Sosa; lighting designer, Jen Schriever; and sound designer, Jonathan Deans. Then there is the humor brought together by Fight Choreographer, Thomas Schall and you are drawn to what becomes illuminated on the backdrops by Projection Designer, David Bengali.

1776 will be at the Kennedy Center, Eisenhower Theater, until July 16th and tickets are available online. They are going fast.