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1776: We Declare it Good

By • Apr 23rd, 2006 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of Vienna Theatre Company’s production of 1776; [MP3 4:10 1.2MB].

Laura: Tonight we saw Vienna Theatre Company‘s production of 1776.

Mike: 1776 is the musical story of the signing of the United States’ Declaration of Independence that took place in the Summer of 1776.

Laura: Doesn’t that sound boring?

Mike: I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it would be boring, but everyone kept telling us to go see the show. We found the time in our schedules and it was really good.

Laura: I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t sure what to expect either. The singing and the live orchestra really made it a lot of fun. It allowed me to suspend my disbelief and let me see the characters as real historical figures.

Mike: They only had a few of the original characters who signed the Declaration of Independence. They had at least one person from every state. Some states had more than one representative. There were some names that everyone who knows anything about us history would recognize, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson. And then other names that you might recognize like John Hancock, who signed the Declaration of Independence really big. If you watch the West Wing on television, Josiah Bartlett who was related to the president on the tv show. Everybody else was just somebody, but they all did really well.

Laura: I liked John Adams played by Mick Tinder. I thought he did a really good job, He had a good singing voice, good emotion, and a presence on stage. I came away thinking he was loud and obnoxious.

Mike: Ben Franklin was the other main character, played by Jeffery Westlake. Ben Franklin and John Adams had a friendship that the two actors were able to pull off. They could insult each other, and laugh at each other’s foibles. They were not brothers, but like minded in their belief that the United States needed to be independent from England. They worked together to get that done over the three months in which the show takes place.

Laura: I really liked the costumes. I thought they fit the time period well. I feel for all those actors up there who had to wear those wigs. I bet they were really hot.

Mike: The songs were really well done. Several of the scenes involved a delegate writing to his wife and her writing back to him. The way they presented this was on stage as a song or duet. They were separated by he length of the stage and it was very effective having them talk back and forth through their letters as songs. I liked that a lot.

Laura: There was sort of one main scene where all the action took place at the Continental Congress. All the action took place in Philadelphia. They did have mini scenes such as Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence. That was done on a side stage. All those scene changes and prop movements were done very smoothly and did not take away from the momentum of the show.

Mike: There were a few children in the audience. Most of them left at the intermission. This is a good show for kids, but it is complex so if they’re really young they may not understand it. I would say 5th grade and up. The show with the intermission is about 2 hours and 45 minutes long. The other thing is tonight’s show was sold out. So call or email the Vienna Theatre Company to make reservations so you won’t be turned away at the door.

Laura: If you’ve seen the Vienna Theatre Company performing 1776 and would like to leave a comment, feel free to do so on our website: And now, on with the show.

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  1. First, I want to say thank you for the positive comments about 1776. As a a member of the cast, it’s gratifying to know you liked the show and were pleasantly surprised. However, please note that EVERY congressman portrayed in the play was not only real but actually did sign and took the same risks of being hanged and not just “somebody”. Each of the amendments requested in the final scene are in the document. Thank you again for a good review it really is our pleasure to perform for all who can make it.
    Bob Cohen (Col Thomas McKean)