It’s Double Take December at Musical Cyberspace! Every musical pretty much has something one likes and something one doesn’t in it. This month I’ll be listing one of each for a range of musicals, a different one each day.
Something I Like: I like that nothing silly happened to even further cement the already overrated reputation of this show – like winning the Pulitzer Prize. How’s that for something nice?
Something I Don’t Like: I personally find Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone’s 1776 a bit of a snooze. There is no appeal in it for me whatsoever and I don’t really like the score at all. It’s popularity has always baffled me and I’ve always thought it must be an American thing that I just didn’t get.
Feel free to share what your “double take” on 1776 in the comment box!
What I like: Oh gosh. There isn’t a lot I don’t like about this one (which I guess makes different strokes for different folks, David!). I love that it’s a musical about the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War that never feels like a history lesson. At least, I don’t think it does. The characters are real people, and they have music that matches their personalities exactly–of the ones with solo numbers, Richard Henry Lee is cocky and good-natured, Dickinson is sophisticated and sarcastic, and Rutledge is all Southern charm with danger underneath. I love the incredible men’s chorus numbers. I love William Daniels on the OBC, and in the movie. I love Abigail Adams and the fact that they actually used text from her letters. I love how many of the delegates get their little moments to shine–Sherman and Livingston in “But, Mr. Adams,” John Witherspoon when the New Jersey delegation finally arrives, Judge Wilson when it comes down to the final vote, Dr. Lyman Hall at the very end after “Is Anybody There?” (Just thinking about that song and that moment gives me chills.) And Adams himself, the central character, is a well-rounded, beautifully-written human being.
What I don’t like: Well…I guess “Momma, Look Sharp” is kind of a dead moment theatrically, but I still like it, especially the harmonies at the end. I think my biggest criticism is that it’s impossible to mount, which means it’s rarely done, which means I’ll probably never get to play Abigail. Also, it requires such a huge cast of a talented men, and the exact right chemistry among them, that most productions that get done are pretty bad. I saw a community production in Arizona where “Momma, Look Sharp” was the highlight. Oof.