Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Frank Galati (The Pirate Queen, Seussical and Ragtime on Broadway) directs a crisply performed production. When the curtain rises after John Adams' opening speech, the audience sees an almost perfect replica of the famous drawing of the Continental Congress, aided by the spectacular setting by Russell Metheny. Equally spectacular are the costumes of Mara Blumenfeld and wigs by Michelle Hart.
1776 is an ensemble piecethe central role is John Adams, but there are other roles that are almost as important. The entire cast here is so strong that I hesitate to single anyone out, but Bernie Yvon as John Adams, Andrew Boyer as Benjamin Franklin (sounding exactly as I have always imagined he did, and completely irascible), Jeff Parker as John Dickinson, and Jay Lusteck as Richard Henry Lee are all outstanding. Jarrod Zimmerman as Edward Rutledge delivers the showstopping "Molasses to Rum" so intensely that it is a relief when one of the members of the Continental Congress interrupts the song for a brief moment, allowing the audience to catch a breath. Zimmerman's performance includes re-creations of several of the sounds described in the song to spectacular effect
Andrea Prestinario as Martha Jefferson and Abby Mueller as Abigail Adams supply the only female presence in this male-dominated show. All the singing, much of it as ensemble, is very strong, and beautifully supported by music director Michael Rice and his orchestra. This is a musical in which the music does a great deal of the dramatic work. For example, the song "But, Mr. Adams" tells how it came to be that Thomas Jefferson did the writing of the declaration.
1776 plays through December 22, 2012. It is too good to miss!
Asolo Repertory Theater presents 1776 through December 22, 2012, at the Mertz Theater in the FSU Center. 5555 N. Tamiami Trail. Sarasota, Florida. Box Office (941) 351-8000. For more information visit www.asolorep.org.
Cast in order of speaking
Directed by Frank Galati
* denotes Member of Actor's Equity