VA Rep’s ’1776′ offers insight into modern political struggles, opens 9/28
If anyone said history can’t be fun, they were sadly mistaken. Virginia Repertory Theatre is giving you the timeless Broadway Musical 1776, which hits Richmond’s November Theater this month.
1776 The Musical is an iconic classic that tell the story of John Adams and his role as a catalyst towards the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Written by Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards, 1776 won the 1969 Tony Award for Best Musical.
Scott Wichmann, who plays John Adams in the show, described the production as the creation story of the United States of America. Wichmann is no stranger to the theater scene or even to the role of John Adams. Wichmann starred in the Fox docudrama Legends and Lies as John Adams which premiered in 2016.
Matthew Costello (stephen Hopkins), Michael Hawk (John Hancock), Jody Ashworth (John Dickinson), Scott Wichmann (john Adams), Bryant Pugh (Richard Henry Lee), Jason Marks (Benjamin Franklin), Landon Nagel (Thomas Jefferson), Alexander Sapp (Edward Rutledge) - Photo by Jay Paul. Thanks to St. John’s Church Foundation.
Having a strong relationship with Virginia Rep, Wichmann pioneered this musical with his enthusiastic love for the show. “This is the one that I’ve been looking at since I was 18 or 19 years old. I just lived with this musical,” he said. “You know how it is to have the soundtrack on all the time and just immerse yourself in music to the point where it gets into your DNA and it’s just second nature. So that’s been my relationship to this musical. It’s been a soundtrack of my life.”
As a Richmond transplant, Wichmann was originally born in Massachusetts and is carrying John Adams’ legacy all the way down I-95. He describes this role as one he has been waiting for since he came to Richmond 18 years ago. “This is my favorite historical figure, my favorite historical time period, I’m from Massachusetts, I got an opportunity to play him on TV. Now I get the opportunity to do this for real. I think my whole life has been preparing me up to this point. And I’m just going to try and enjoy it.” said Wichmann.
The story is as witty as it is lively and it takes a village to bring it to life. The cast started rehearsals on the 5th and rehearse up to 5 or 6 hours a night. “There’s a real community there,” Wichmann said. “The challenge of doing a show this big is hoping when you pull all of the elements together there’s chemistry.”
While the show, true to the times, offers up a male-dominated cast with only two female roles, Debra Clinton will be pulling the strings back stage as the director of the massive show. “You can get so much input and everyone comes to the table with so many ideas.” Clinton said. “It’s also a lot to keep track of and you want to do your best really for everybody. So it’s really having to pay close attention all the time.”
Clinton has had her hands in all parts of theater community here in Richmond for 25 years as an actress, a teacher, a playwright and a director. This will be her third directing project with Virginia Rep.
Even though this musical is pure entertainment, Wichmann describes a deeper meaning that relates to the current situation our country is in now.
“It’s an opportune time to have these discussions about reflecting on where we come from,” he said. “I think this is a pivotal election year, there is a lot of things at stake. Essentially what this show says is the history of this nation is one of argument. We come from our own experiences and we throw our ideas on the table and hopefully we can work together to make something great.”
1776: the Musical opens 9/28 at Virginia Rep’s November Theatre, you can find more show details and snag tickets here.
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